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Complaint Challenges Univ. of Hawaii Email Partnership Wth Google

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the no-I-will-not-hang-loose-you-fascists dept.

Google 172

An anonymous reader writes "A recent move by the University of Hawaii forcing all students and faculty to migrate their independent university email accounts to Google has raised serious questions, prompting one student to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education, with senior faculty questioning both the implementation and scope of this partnership." One of the stranger notes: a clause, defended as standard, naming Google a "school official" of the university.

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Sounds like shilling (5, Insightful)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#39955283)

If my Community College can get away with forcing (it is actually required you use it) all students and faculty to use Hotmail, which works properly on precisely zero of my three main computers, I don't see how Gmail warrants a shitfit for any reason other than some MS bribery.

Re:Sounds like shilling (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39955331)

Our college had Exchange and we were expected to use OWA, so if you use anything other than IE say goodbye to most features (assuming it was useable at all).

Re:Sounds like shilling (2)

Sylak (1611137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39955541)

Recent versions of OWA play nice with IE 7+, FireFox 3.x+ and Safari... nothing else though

Re:Sounds like shilling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39955671)

Actually I use chrome with the OWA account I have through the college I work at. I have never had an issue.

Re:Sounds like shilling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39955751)

Not having an issue is not the same as having all the features. You're severely limited in the feature set in Chrome.

Re:Sounds like shilling (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39956335)

what features, just curious, we just installed the latest exchange server a month back, i have owa open in chrome and ie right now, both seem very similar and i dont see any difference in features, what should i be looking for.

Re:Sounds like shilling (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956285)

Incorrect. Chrome works just fine, both with the Exchange OWA as well as the Office 365 OWA.

Caveat: in order to not use the 'light' OWA for O365, you've got to forge your browser's ID string to IE. It worked nicely for a while, and then didn't, requiring this kludge.

Re:Sounds like shilling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39955753)

MS finally pulled their heads out of their rears because Exchange 2010 OWA works good in Firefox and Chrome. Exchange 2007 and earlier used the light version of OWA when using non-IE browsers.

Re:Sounds like shilling (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 2 years ago | (#39955911)

My employer/university uses it also. Works fine for me on Firefox and the web browser on Android phones...

Re:Sounds like shilling (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956057)

It's gotten a lot better, especially with Exchange 2010 but this was Exchange 2003 when IE6 was still king, Firefox/Opera/Safari were barely supported by anything and Chrome didn't exist.

Re:Sounds like shilling (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956339)

That makes me think of all the people who hear complaints about Linux and respond with "Oh, that was last year, have you tried it recently?"

Except it's closer to a decade, instead of a year. If you're gonna complain, at least try to be on a current variant. That's four major versions ago. Would you bitch Linux due to issues with the 1.x kernel?

Re:Sounds like shilling (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956811)

In 2006, Exchange 2003 was the current variant (2007 was released at the end of that year). I know, I know - the college really should have taken a time machine into the future rather than requiring OWA in spite of more than 85% of the students have college-issued laptops with Outlook installed on them (and were on the domain to boot). I'm talking about when I was in college, not now. Thus the use of past tense and pointing it occurred before Chrome was ever released.

If I had problems with the Linux 1.x kernel at a time when it was the most current and we were being forced to use it in spite of a relatively simple alternative, then yes, I would bitch.

Re:Sounds like shilling (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957129)

Or maybe they should have upgraded since then?

I'm not talking about making complaints /then/ I'm talking about making them now.

Re:Sounds like shilling (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39955341)

Nice false dichotmy. Students shouldn't be forced to use either. Keep sucking Larry's and Sergey's stubby dicks, fanboi.

Re:Sounds like shilling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39955503)

I wanted to reply to the first half of this post, but the second makes that rather impractical. Thanks, dickhead.

Re:Sounds like shilling (1)

reve_etrange (2377702) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957441)

So we should all be forced to use incredibly shitty in house webmail systems?

Microsoft and Google's "for your domain" packages are both free to universities.

Re:Sounds like shilling (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39955365)

Log in Gmail. Enable POP3 and/or IMAP access. Configure Thunderbird. Done.

Re:Sounds like shilling (2)

KhabaLox (1906148) | more than 2 years ago | (#39958007)

Log in Gmail. Enable POP3 and/or IMAP access. Configure Thunderbird. Done.

I was thinking about this the other night. I like Gmail, but I don't really like it's interface. I don't want to install a client on every machine I use to access my email. Is there a website/service that acts like an email client that has a customizable (or at least better) interface?

Re:Sounds like shilling (3, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 2 years ago | (#39955563)

Considering the kid made the typical anti-google statements, I would tend to agree.

"Fread has filed a complaint with the federal Department of Education, saying, “They’re [UH] absolutely ignoring Google’s abysmal record with privacy.”

That's word for word, isn't it. quoted from fox news: Yep [eweek.com] "Steve Pociask, president of the American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research, wrote on FoxNews.com that "[Google's] abysmal track record on privacy "
Or here's one for facebook: http://rsjrealestate.blogspot.com/2012/02/google-facebook-privacy-and-digital.html [blogspot.com] "Facebook, with its abysmal track record on privacy"
How often do people trot out this line as if it's facts?

Re:Sounds like shilling (-1)

kiwimate (458274) | more than 2 years ago | (#39955621)

Googleâ(TM)s abysmal record with privacy...How often do people trot out this line as if it's facts?

For Google, actually, it is. There was a study (proper study, using scientific methods and actual real statistics, not magazine type stats) which ranked Google dead last for privacy concerns. Need to dig it up and post the link...

Re:Sounds like shilling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39955843)

yeah, ok. So the link's going to be from technet then? or consumerwatchdog, who has showed they have no idea what they're talking about?

Re:Sounds like shilling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39955959)

So your reply (because it lacked the study you need to dig up) is simply another "the existing number plus one" post?

[sarcasm]Thanks for contributing so very much![/sarcasm]

Re:Sounds like shilling (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39955995)

Considering this "kid" is 37 years old, a former US Marine, a former superintendent for federal contracting projects, and is quite well versed in privacy laws, specifically in the Code of Federal Regulations section 34 part 99 that defines both who can be a "school official" and how student/faculty data is to be handeld, I think your ad-hom attempt at an argument says alot more about you than anyone else. I can stand on the FTC's investigations into Google bypassing user privacy settings for Safari browsers, and Google's admitted illegal data retention and access of wifi-servers, emails, passwords, and hard drive contents while they were out doing Street View. What do you got?

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/29/technology/google-engineer-told-others-of-data-collection-fcc-report-reveals.html?_r=2

http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57414945-93/google-may-face-fine-over-safari-privacy-bypass/

It's not good to show up to a battle of wits unarmed my friend.

Re:Sounds like shilling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39956183)

You made some good points, but much of them were mixed in with bullshit, would you like to eat a fine meal that has bullshit mixed in?

Drop the bullshit and you will be taken more seriously.

Re:Sounds like shilling (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39956407)

Considering this "kid" is you, nobody gives a fucking shit. And the CFR? Seriously?

Re:Sounds like shilling (4, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957429)

1) What does being a former marine have to do with privacy laws?
2) What does being a former superintendent for federal contracting projects have to do with privacy laws?
3) How do you know he is quite well versed in privacy laws?

Sounds to me like you're substituting an ad hominem with two unjustified appeals to authority and an unsupported statement of fact.

It's not good to show up to a battle of wits with nothing but wet blanks.

Re:Sounds like shilling (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39957695)

1) Working in administration and handling sensitive personal information?
2) Working on federal and state contracts handling private data of employees?
3) see 1 & 2

Fail troll is fail.

Re:Sounds like shilling (4, Insightful)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957967)

Hard drive contents from the Street View collection?

Really?

Got a source on that one, cause that sounds more than just unlikely it sounds like a complete lie.

Re:Sounds like shilling (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39955879)

Except, my university hotmail-ish (servers run by MS, but not technically hotmail, same software though) was selected over Google. The reason? MS was willing to make concessions, so we could use them. Google wasn't. These concessions were needed due to FERPA privacy requirements. Basically Google would not fix privacy holes we needed fixed, MS would.

Mind you, almost everyone hates it, and we have an option to opt out (most students sign the FERPA waivers and get their email forwarded to gmail anyway). But that could be why your school uses suckmail.

Re:Sounds like shilling (1)

xclr8r (658786) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957533)

Whether it works or not is a small issue. The big issue is Colleges use to have a rep for standing up for their student body's rights. e.g. no access to e-mail/log records with out a warrant and not without notifying the individual in question (National Security issues not withstanding). A company is not going to fight as fervently for its students right to information/privacy as a company will. The school's future admission numbers will reflect a bad move in this department. A company is beholden to none but the law and mass consumerism.

We went with google (1)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | more than 2 years ago | (#39955327)

Honestly if we didn't we'd be stuck on our old Cyrus IMAP servers and our 2 gigabyte quotas.

Re:We went with google (4, Insightful)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 2 years ago | (#39955657)

and our 2 gigabyte quotas.

You couldn't manage with 2 gigs? WTF are you doing? Let me guess, you're one of those who saves the email with the attachment rather than saving the attachment and deleting the email.

I tell people where I work, you have your email quota (set by another agency) and you get 1 pst file of 2 gigs. If you can't manage your email with that amount space, you're doing something wrong.

When they follow my suggestion, it's amazing how much space they suddenly have.

And before those of you start whining about how space is cheap, it costs about 1 penny per email per person per day to maintain. That's storage space, manpower to manage the space, backups and electricity to keep everything running. Multiply out the potentially millions of emails in an organization by that cost and you'll see why deleting emails and saving the attachment is the correct path.

Re:We went with google (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39955933)

If it costs $0.01/email/day ($3.65/email/year) for storage and support then your entire IT operation should be shut down and replaced tomorrow.

Re:We went with google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39955967)

You must be completely unfamiliar with government work. Email holds the same weight as blood when it comes to a little CYA. We are REQUIRED to save our email in my organization as a method of maintaining tasking, permission, and time off. We hold all other communications as a form of showing what work we've accomplished for the day. We are only permitted roughly 65MB for calendar and email. We have HUGE PST files. It sucks.

Re:We went with google (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956443)

Storage is cheap, data is valuable. I think you are forgetting this part. I can by a 2 GB flash drive for a DOLLAR. Figure it out you waste of IT space.

Re:We went with google (1)

adri (173121) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957031)

.. and you have to back it up. .. and you have to keep it powered. .. and you have to keep it cooled. .. and you have to keep it managed. .. and it takes up physical space.

There's a valid argument for what you're trying to say, but it's not "2gb flash drive for a dollar". You're missing the whole lifecycle of IT. Please address that?

Re:We went with google (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957245)

I agree. College students email with term paper for hire attachments, and pirated songs and protest organization mail, and drunk shots of the girl in 301 West Tower, and the going rate for a dime bag are all valuable forensic data.

Re:We went with google (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957755)

You left out all the expensive bits.

Back up, electricity, manpower, space, maintenance, yada yada yada.

Re:We went with google (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39957053)

Hmm. I never delete any emails or attachments; been saving everything for more than 20 years.

I have over 100,000 emails in my home computer outbox alone (just checked). My whole email archive (all folders and attachments) is 12 GBytes. At $0.01/email/day, that should be costing me way over $365,000/year to maintain (way over because I only counted the outbox).

Backups run nightly to two separate RAID 5 arrays on 2 separate machines, in addition to the off-site backup (CrashPlan.com). I spend less then $500/year on the whole thing. And that system backs up over 2 TB of data - so email is 1.2% of that space.

Something is badly wrong with the way you do IT.

Suppose it takes your average user 15 seconds each to "save the attachment and delete the email". At a loaded cost (with benefits) of $100,000/year per employee (well below average for the US), working 2000 hours/year each, that's $0.21 of company time per email. Enough to pay for 21 YEARS of storage at your outrageous cost of $0.01/email/year. (Which is WAY OVER 61,000 times more than it costs me to do the same thing.)

You're incompetent.

Re:We went with google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39957149)

Exactly -- it takes more time and energy to clean and maintain an inbox than it does to save it all. And that's generally true whether or not you're considering attachments. Even Outlook and Windows can search a multi-GB set of folders efficiently enough....

Re:We went with google (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957721)

You're an idiot, or have never worked with any large project.

I work on 12 projects they will run a decade or longer. During the time there will be dozens of stake holders, plus legal requirements to maintain a history.
  1 penny per email? are you stupid?
First off, it's about size, not number of emails.
Secondly, the cost per email goes down depending on how many emails you have, tapering off as you approach 0. Obviously you don't achieve zero.

Thirdly, That's an outrages prices. either you are being screwed by someone, or have grossly incompetent IT management. I suspect the latter since the metric you gave is uninformative in any real sense.

And with all internal emails, we used shared documents, so thats generally not the issue. We do have outside people for a variety of reasons, in that case, yes we are saving attachments. And yes, I am working to getting people to evaluate a larger shared system. FYI it's not a technical problem, it's a legal one. Otherwise I would have done it.

Re:We went with google (1)

bdwebb (985489) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957791)

"No one will ever need more than 640k of memory." -Bill Gates (Disputed by Mr. Gates but who would want to be credited with saying that...)

Seems like you don't work in IT. Our company has an average costs per gigabye for redundancy, hardware maintenance, engineering time, power, and cooling of right around $41. Let's assume that the average email has a size of 75kB (which is far larger than our organization's average of ~41kB..just for the sake of argument) and then divide 1,048,576kB (1gB) by that 75kB and we reach a total of 13981.013 emails per gigabyte of storage space. Finally, if we take $41 and divide by 13981.013, we get $0.0029 per email, per year. For reference, we are running two NetApp FAS6000s and have two Equallogic PS6000s running RAID 50 for redundancy.

Given the fact that our organization is extremely email/data heavy and we are well under the 75kB assumption above per email, it is safe to say that your assessment of $3.65/email/year is WAY off base. We run well under $0.0029 per email, per year and have a very reasonable 10gB mailbox size limit. I can understand limiting the total data to a lower amount in a school environment but your reasoning for doing so (that storage is somehow extremely expensive) is waaaay off base.

Thinking about a school environment having 2000 users, each with an email account, each with a limitation of 2gB, we're talking 4000gB of storage space required to maintain their mailboxes. Adding another 500gB for internal storage and applications like Exchange, we can assume a total required of 4500gB of storage space at maximum (because users will be forced to archive locally at 2gB). Using our organization as an example and adding some cost for argument's sake, let's assume $50/gB/year. Total per year, then, will be $225,000/year which is no insignificant sum (granted this is with some pretty hardcore redundancy built in so real cost would be more around $15-20/gB/year or $67,500 - $90,000).

We can use the earlier 13981.013 emails/gB and then multiply by 4500gB of required storage space to reach a total capacity of 62,914,558.5 emails. Taking your example of $3.65/email/year, that means that a 2000 user organization with a 2gB mailbox size limit would spend $229,638,138.53 every year just maintaining their storage...uhh...what???

Here to, but... (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39955659)

We are at the mercy of Google now. When Google decides to roll out a new "feature," it is not as though we can choose not to use it. I thought that perhaps I could shield myself by using an email client, but guess what? When Google decided to start classifying some of my mail as "important," messages started disappearing from my inbox and appearing in a folder I had not subscribed to. It took me a few days to figure out what was happening, and to disable the "feature."

That and the fact that official communication basically shuts down if our Internet service is ever interrupted, which has happened a few times.

Re:Here to, but... (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957703)

This was because you accepted the new settings when it was offered to you on screen and you clicked it away instead of reading. Next time tell the full story.

My old Uni did this. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39955349)

My old university moved from forcing every student to use an email account hosted by the University to forcing every student to use an email account hosted by Google, with the same .university.ca domain.

It saved the University money and provided better service because the old mail system was crap.

What's the beef?

Re:My old Uni did this. (4, Insightful)

rabbit994 (686936) | more than 2 years ago | (#39955589)

Because in most cases, Google is mining all those accounts for data and showing ads. In some cases, students may be involved with research that includes confidential data. Google does not provide guarantees that they won't mine/archive or protect that data in accordance with laws/regulations surrounding that data.

That's generally been beef I've seen with Google.

Re:My old Uni did this. (5, Insightful)

ajuda (124386) | more than 2 years ago | (#39955677)

I logged in for the first time in years to say this:

If you are dealing with confidential data, you should not be emailing it in plain text. EVER.

Even if your server isn't mining the data, someone on the other end (or someone in between) could too.

Would you feel comfortable having your social security number being sent over yahoo/hotmail/random university email?

Re:My old Uni did this. (4, Informative)

rabbit994 (686936) | more than 2 years ago | (#39955859)

HIPPA does not require that data be passed in encrypted form. It only requires that reasonable effort be made secure it. However, that can be patient data can be transmitted via internal email because it's all Exchange and therefore encrypted over the wire, then in most cases, HIPPA is satisfied.

Email Encryption still has long way to go before it's completely transparent to user.

Re:My old Uni did this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39957057)

HIPPA allows for protected data to be emailed in the clear?? What kind of backwards regulation is this? And you're defending this obviously deficient requirement?

HIPAA (2)

TheTerseOne (2447418) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957365)

If you're going to claim to know the implementation of a standard, it's usually best to actually know the standard. HIPAA (one P, two As) specifically states:

Covered entities must consider the use of encryption for transmitting EPHI, particularly over the Internet. As business practices and technology change, situations may arise where EPHI being transmitted from a covered entity would be at significant risk of being accessed by unauthorized entities. Where risk analysis shows such risk to be significant, a covered entity must encrypt those transmissions under the addressable implementation specification for encryption.

Re:HIPAA (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957793)

Which confirms what he said.

Re:My old Uni did this. (1)

demontechie (180612) | more than 2 years ago | (#39955965)

What you're saying only applies if the people communicating are not all sharing the same server.

As long as there is proper encryption between the clients and server, if you have members of a research group who all belong to the same organization (say, Uinv. of Hawaii) who need to exchange emails with (and only with) each other which contain confidential material, why on earth shouldn't they use a properly configured and managed server controlled by their organization?

email is not private (1)

Local ID10T (790134) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957011)

If you wouldn't shout it down the hallway in the dorm, you shouldn't put it in an email.

email is not private.

People may think it is. They may feel it should be. According to the specifications, it is not.

Re:My old Uni did this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39957295)

I logged in for the first time in years to say this:

If you are dealing with confidential data, you should not be emailing it in plain text. EVER.

Even if your server isn't mining the data, someone on the other end (or someone in between) could too.

Would you feel comfortable having your social security number being sent over yahoo/hotmail/random university email?

Almost everything is confidential in an academic environment. This includes all homework assignments, e-mail between teachers and students, right? In order to do this, the entire university would have to encrypt virtually all of its internal e-mails. If a student's mother calls and asks me about why her son got a B- in my class, I can't talk to her at all about it without a written waiver from the kid.

Re:My old Uni did this. (1)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957323)

You're confusing transport encryption with message encryption.

HIPPA doesn't require that you use S/MIME or PGP or some other technology to encrypt the content of your mail at rest. But if you're transporting between systems, you need to ensure that privileged data is protected in transit. There are a variety of techniques that allow you to do that, with a range of advantages and disadvantages.

Re:My old Uni did this. (3)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#39955683)

But on the other hand, people complain that schools are expensive and inefficient. The logical conclusion is to outsource non-core departments to the lowest bidder. Isn't that how the free market is supposed to work?

Oh wait, people complain about free markets if the free markets affect them negatively. I forgot that humans are not rational beings, and are instead illogical, petty and short-sighted. Libertarians included.

Re:My old Uni did this. (2)

Githaron (2462596) | more than 2 years ago | (#39955971)

But on the other hand, people complain that schools are expensive and inefficient. The logical conclusion is to outsource non-core departments to the lowest bidder. Isn't that how the free market is supposed to work?

Oh wait, people complain about free markets if the free markets affect them negatively. I forgot that humans are not rational beings, and are instead illogical, petty and short-sighted. Libertarians included.

Assuming people put their money where their mouth is, the free market welcomes complaint. When there is a market, either existing companies will change in order to grab up that market or new companies will come up to grab that market. Now, if you are a market of one, expect to pay a lot more since you will be dealing with a custom solution. Don't blame the free market if the average Joe would get email by giving out their personal data than paying cash for it. If you can't get your college or email service provider to change, there are other colleges and other email service providers. If you want something contrary to the majority of the market, expect to pay more for it.

Re:My old Uni did this. (1)

miserere nobis (1332335) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956253)

The problems here are several:

1) Email and file services, for a research university with a computer science program, is a core function.

2) Data and communications storage, retention, and management, for a research university doing anything at all, is a core function.

3) The assumption that outsourcing non-core functionality is always and automatically the answer to inefficiency is a mistaken premise. There is nothing inherent in outside providers that makes them capable of greater efficiency. Especially when you house an entire department researching the best solutions to problems related to the concern at hand.

Re:My old Uni did this. (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956547)

No. Its not a CORE function. The Core function is to teach the field, not to ensure that the university campus is also your testbed. Why do you need to research email? Its done, cooked, finished.

Re:My old Uni did this. (1)

miserere nobis (1332335) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956879)

Running email is a core function like running libraries is a core function, as they serve very similar purposes in a university environment. And email isn't even close to done, cooked, finished, anyway. The problems of storage, access, indexing, delivery, scaling, privacy, interface, all of these are active fields of research and innovation. In fact, it is specifically Google's innovations in some of these areas (especially scaling at low cost) that make them attractive at all, so "done, cooked, finished" is extremely inaccurate. And that doesn't even get into the auxiliary issues: hardware, network design, algorithms for load balancing and systems monitoring, OS design and configuration, and security.

Re:My old Uni did this. (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957203)

Wait - so to solve the cost and availability problem that email has at the UofH, you are advocating that it be used as a testbed for new technologies and research?

Are you crazy? There's a reason research departments don't sell their products or provide support for them to external users.

Re:My old Uni did this. (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957013)

1) Email and file services, for a research university with a computer science program, is a core function.

No, it's not. We are a research university with a computer science program. CS has nothing to do with our administrative email (which we have also contracted out to Google, BTW) and file services. Nor should they. They have their own systems to do research on and should not be touching ours.

2) Data and communications storage, retention, and management, for a research university doing anything at all, is a core function.

You seem to be confusing administrative computing with research computing. The two are, and must be (if you are to have any sanity at all in your computing resources) completely separate. The second is a core function, but the first is not.

3) The assumption that outsourcing non-core functionality is always and automatically the answer to inefficiency is a mistaken premise.

No argument there. Each instance has to be judged on its own merits, and a lot of times it doesn't work. But sometimes it does. Having Google take email off our hands (it was always a nightmare) has been a pretty good deal for us; it's actually more reliable and saved us a boatload of money.

Re:My old Uni did this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39955853)

Confidential data should never be send via email, there is no guarantee it will be kept confidential. Sure you could encrypt the body, but headers still have to be plain text (and there is no guarantee the transport path was encrypted end to end).

Re:My old Uni did this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39957481)

My uni is doing the Google transition, and as far as I understand, the agreement is that they specifically do *not* run ads for anyone in the Google edu program. They certainly aren't for us.

Re:My old Uni did this. (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957779)

"Google is mining all those accounts for data and showing ads."
It depends on the agreement. You can get space from gmail where they don't do that. Last I checked was 50 bucks an email account per year. It's all set up to look like you're organizations system.

Re:My old Uni did this. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39955597)

I was coming here to post this. My university will be forcing everyone to use GMail for their university email in the Fall.

What is it replacing? The previous, shitty email system that all students and faculty were forced to use. And 3-4 years ago, that shitty system replaced some other shitty system that all students and faculty were forced to use. I've never seen a university that doesn't force everyone to use some sort of specific email system for the official email.

So it's not that I don't understand someone having an issue with being forced to use a specific email account, it's that they didn't have this issue 15-20 years ago. I'm pretty sure the statute of limitations on being irate over this has run out.

Re:My old Uni did this. (2, Insightful)

miserere nobis (1332335) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956493)

It's not about being forced to use a specific email account. It is about handing the entire store of all academic, personal, and often confidential-by-law communications to a for-profit corporation whose business is data mining. We should be moving away from giving ownership of all our data to others, and universities should be at the head of that charge, not pushing people in the opposite direction. They should be seeking to protect the identities and private information of faculty, staff, and enrolled students, as well as sometimes sensitive and unpublished research data, as much as possible, not handing it over to third parties whose interests conflict with that goal. Where do Google's interests lie? Where do they stand to gain? From lowering the levels of information security and privacy and protection, not increasing it. This is at odds with what universities should be attempting to accomplish. Do, and should, your communications with the disciplinary board or billing office or your grades, or university medical center test results, or your personal communications about all the stupid stuff you do while a college student rightfully belong to an advertising company?

Re:My old Uni did this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39955653)

If they don't host the email themselves, what is the point in forcing a certain mail provider at all? Just set up a forwarder for the university address and let anyone choose the mail provider he likes most.

From an employer's perspective (4, Interesting)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#39955441)

As an employer there are laws on data retention, so faculty and staff e-mail has to be retained for legal purposes.

At this point I think it's foolish for students to expect e-mail at school to remain unarchived. Both free and paid private e-mail services are available all over the place.

As an employee I use work e-mail for only work-related purposes. Nothing private. In college this would be a good lesson for students to learn- use academia e-mail for "work" related purposes, as they'll have to do in their professional lives later.

Re:From an employer's perspective (1)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | more than 2 years ago | (#39955507)

As an employer there are laws on data retention, so faculty and staff e-mail has to be retained for legal purposes.

So then you run the mail relay and archive whatever goes thorough it or comes from it. Forcing people to use some proprietary solution with that as an argument is BS.

Re:From an employer's perspective (2)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#39955617)

Last I checked, it's possible for Google's mail to use SMTP and POP3. Whether or not the institution chooses that is not the same as it being impossible or even difficult to implement. We use Google for our e-mail at work, with our own domain, etc, and we have SMTP and POP3 enabled.

This really smells bad (1, Insightful)

perles (1855088) | more than 2 years ago | (#39955445)

I have my Gmail account for years and loved, but a couple of weeks ago I lost some important e-mails stored in the Gmail (and several folks had same issues due to the upgrade to 10GB recently done). I have contacted Google team but got no help at all. Since then I lost my trust in Google and I am planning to open another e-mail with another e-mail provider to keep as another option. Another problem is the privacy issues raised some months ago here and other tech website. Also, researchers don't use gmail account as a contact e-mail i scientific papers. Too bad for the institution who does that. I would recommnend that every lab keeps their own server for e-mails and website hosting.

Re:This really smells bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39955555)

I lost some important e-mails stored in the Gmail

stop deleting them then

and several folks had same issues

[citation needed]

It's a free service? (1)

g0tai (625459) | more than 2 years ago | (#39955461)

If this is beng provided for free via google(and it works), I wouldn't be complaining, especially if it saves “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” which could go better spent on other things

Re:It's a free service? (1)

JoeCommodore (567479) | more than 2 years ago | (#39955575)

Google apps for education and non-profits I think is free up to 5,000 accounts.

Re:It's a free service? (1)

reve_etrange (2377702) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957579)

Google apps "for education" and "for non-profits" are different packages. The university package is completely free regardless of user base. "For non-profits" is free below 3,000 accounts and has a 40% discount above that limit.

Re:It's a free service? (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39955713)

which could go better spent on other things

Which in all likelihood will be spent on some proprietary software package that most students will never benefit from. Meanwhile, students are at the mercy of Google when it comes to feature changes, compatibility, and even getting to keep their email account (which at least here Google can terminate on its own if they want).

Re:It's a free service? (1, Insightful)

miserere nobis (1332335) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956639)

Zero dollars is not the same as free.

It's a DEATH CAMP (-1, Troll)

CajunArson (465943) | more than 2 years ago | (#39955463)

What sort of Nazi Deathcamp are they running in Hawaii where those poor innocent students are *forced* at gunpoint to use gmail?!?!?!!?

Next thing you know, those sub-human Nazi scum administrators will force the students to attend classes only in predetermined lecture halls based on a nazi-inspired "class schedule" They may even commit the ultimate crime against humanity by having those evil capitalist schill professors force the students to use textbooks and even do "coursework"!!!

This story is the ultimate proof that America is corrupt and evil. At no time in human history has any institution sunk to this level of pure evil. Obviously this is 100% Bush's fault since Hawaii is completely controlled by right-wing capitalist Republican Christian-Nazis.

Now mod me up +5 for bashing America.

Re:It's a DEATH CAMP (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39955663)

Moving the students and faculty to gmail enables a corporation to data mine their communications. You can't opt out of google, because even if you get another email service, others you are probably required to communicate with will give google access to those emails.

Maybe we shouldn't ask people to use a "free" service where the user is actually the product.

Re:It's a DEATH CAMP (1)

InvisibleClergy (1430277) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956367)

I'm not gonna lie, I really want to see this get up to (+5, Troll).

why? (1)

Greety (2636389) | more than 2 years ago | (#39955533)

Not sure what the big deal is. CNM (central new mexico) and the community college i went to in Kansas, both had partnerships with google to create "school" emails. (@bartoncougars.com) with it actually being a gmail account. Just forward your mail to the the service you want to use, just like your previous school email system. did these students file a complaint because only Mac's and Windows computers are available to them? where is the linux computers! I think im going to file a complaint that they wont serve me beer on campus. total bs.

Gmail owns your submissions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39955661)

What about the issue of forcing faculty and students to agree to terms that essentially assign everything they send on gmail to google?

"School Official" is not strange, but CRITICAL... (5, Interesting)

nweaver (113078) | more than 2 years ago | (#39955681)

Normally, Google is the service provider. Which means if they get a warrant, or a subpoena, it goes to Google, and Google can answer it however they want or are required to. For example, with some warrants, Google would be forbidden from notifying the university about the warrant, and even when Google can, they are an intermediary that gets in the way.

By making Google a school official, such warrants and subpoenas go DIRECTLY to the University's attorneys. Berkeley's outsourced-to-google mail system has the same basic language from what I understand.

Re:"School Official" is not strange, but CRITICAL. (1)

Stephenmg (265369) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956121)

It actually has more to do with Student record laws, especially with special education and IEPs.

Re:"School Official" is not strange, but CRITICAL. (3, Informative)

bobaferret (513897) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956207)

Where I work we are a service provider for court public records, and are legally an agent of the court for exactly the same reasons. It allows any lawsuits or what have you to be directed to the court as opposed to us. If the court screws up, and makes some information public that shouldn't we do our best to correct the issue, but in the end it's the court's fault and not our own. We even have to be careful in how much help we give them in setting up what data they show, we can't direct them at all or it could make us liable for their bad choices. We can tell them what the majority of our other courts do in similar situations, but even that is a stretch.

Here is the meat of the issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39955777)

If you don't currently subscribe to any Google services, then you are a cookie and not a person to Google. Sure they can target your cookie, but they can't sell directly to you because they don't know for sure who you are. When you sign up and then sign in, they have you. Requiring a student or faculty member to give personal information to a non educational for profit organization to whatever they want with is where people take issue with things like this. It may be true that the college can't afford to maintain an email server to handle the load of so many students, but if one looked to the athletic budget I bet you could see where you might be able to scrape together the scratch for a new email server.

ASU has used this for more than five years... (1)

notdotcom.com (1021409) | more than 2 years ago | (#39955815)

ASU has used "Gmail" for their official email since I was there in about 2006-ish. http://help.asu.edu/sims/selfhelp/SelfhelpKbView.seam?parature_id=8373-8193-5025 [asu.edu]

I can't tell if this is the same policy or type of account that Hawaii is using though.

Google Apps Doesn't Support .XXX TLD (0)

Jonah Hex (651948) | more than 2 years ago | (#39955897)

Found out today Google Apps doesn't support .XXX top level domain, thought that was pretty strange since it was finally an official TLD. Oh well guess I'll be running my own email server instead of paying Google. - HEX of www.HEX.xxx [hex.xxx]

eggs and baskets (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39955945)

Why is that people seem SO keen on killing off the decentralised nature of the internet? If there are many email providers, if a million random people run their own mail servers, the system is robust. It's robust against censorship, against services outages at that one remaining provider, against misguided attempts to stop people from sending this or that because it violates the policy against the other thing.

In what possible world is it a good idea to give ONE institution that much power? Especially one whose entire model is to data-mine everyone's email? In what possible world is it a good idea for there to be one single repository holding EVERYONE's personal communications?

It seems that's what everyone wants - not that the internet treats censorship as damage and routes around it, but that the internet CANNOT route around it, because we gleefully put all our eggs in one basket.

Re:eggs and baskets (1)

miserere nobis (1332335) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956601)

Don't be silly with all your talk of ONE institution with too much power and an overly centralized failure point of both service and security. There are TWO such institutions, you're forgetting Facebook as they control, own, and mine the other half of Internet communications.

Same thing at WVU (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39955985)

My university, West Virginia University, recently notified us that it's doing the same thing: this summer, all email for students will be switched over to Gmail as part of Google's Apps for Education package. Email will still be accessed through the university, but it will be handled by Google.

The announcement was sparse on details, but here are my thoughts based on what I know and assume. On one hand, I'm sure Google will be much faster and more reliable than the current system, and it will be bringing a slew of new features as well. (It actually sounds a lot like Google+.) Of course the downside is that I don't trust Google to not analyze every email I send and receive through my .edu account and correlate it with everything in my personal Gmail account once it figures out that both are owned by me. Maybe a bit paranoid, but those are my feelings nonetheless. I'd really like to see some kind of guarantee from Google that there will be no data flowing in either direction between the university email system and the rest of Google.

A few points (4, Insightful)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956743)

1. Google in in a contract with the university that sets out exactly what Google can and can not do with the data. If they break that contract they will be sued and lose. It is not in a companies interest to leave themselves open to litigation and large judgments.
2. The "school official" phrase has a few implications;
  a. Subpoenas can go to the school instead of Google
  b. Teachers are required to post all correspondence on Gmail for retention purposes.
  c. IT is only required to support Gmail
Many universities are trying to cut IT budgets and one of the best ways is to outsource email. One of the biggest failings in the critics is that they offer no alternative. It is very easy to be an obstructionist and much more difficult to solve the issue. No matter what provider was chosen there would always be a few people who object to it and/or the process that came to the solution. For example one of the criticisms is that the comment period was too short at a couple of months and people did not have sufficient time to comment. If that period was extended to say six months there would be people criticizing that such a simple decision should not take so long and the university was wasting time and money. It is impossible to please everyone.

The "lack of consultation" issue is yet another example of what is called the "outhouse principle". It goes like this; When a huge complex project is proposed, say a power plant, where non experts do not have enough knowledge to understand the detail the approval process goes quite quickly as almost all comments are "yes" or "no". When a smaller project, such as an outhouse, is proposed everyone can understand how one is built and want to comment on every little detail of construction; what shape hole in the door(round, moon, star?), dimensions of the door, which way the door swings, how much ventilation room under the door, etc. The approval process for a simple project can be longer than a complex project.
There is no reason for everyone on campus to debate this issue until everyone is satisfied. It is a decision by the IT department who made it based on their experience and requirements. Does everyone comment when the chemistry department changes their chemical supplier? Does everyone comment when administration changes their paper supplier? Just because people think they should be able to have a say in matters they think the know about does not mean they really should.

Re:A few points (1)

nweaver (113078) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957607)

1 however is really problematic.

At least the Berkeley agreement, from what I understand, is basically "Google won't datamine the EMAIL/Documents while students are still students and for 6 months afterwords, and during that time the web interface doesn't display adds".

This does NOTHING to prevent the rest of Google's horribly intrusive datamining and associating that information with student identities when the students use the Gmail web interface.

My UCSD outsourced-to-google email actually has the standard Google privacy policy on it!

Re:A few points (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957887)

My UCSD outsourced-to-google email actually has the standard Google privacy policy on it!

That policy is overridden by the contract with UCSD. Why was it shown to you? Because you ate using a standard Gmail interface that can not identify which contract you are subject to. Does UCSD have a portal like the Univ of Hawaii [google.com] ? Using that portal may solve the browser data mining issue.

Universities should NEVER outsource email (1)

Arrogant-Bastard (141720) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957127)

1. It's too open to issues: security, privacy, conflict-of-interest, reliability, etc. Everyone knows (or should know) that Google's and Microsoft's and Yahoo's mail services are "loss leaders": they exist only (a) to drive customers to products that make money and (b) to monetize as much private information about users as possible. That's why it should surprise nobody that the latter two are absolutely hideous: completely overrun by spammers years ago -- and the former muddles along at a minimally acceptable quailty level, no better.

2. Any university that can't stand up a functional mail service really needs to evaluate its IT capabilities. It's not hard. I know, I've done it many times. In fact, it gets easier every year due to (a) reduction in server costs (b) improvements in open-source software (c) improvements in load-balancing/fault-tolerance/scalability hardware and software and (d) reduction in storage costs. To put it another way: it's only hard if you make it hard. If you do stupid things like using Exchange, using Outlook, trying to implement mail quotas, failing to teach people how to send links instead of files, trying to use hideously-overpriced commercial anti-spam "solutions" that are anything but, and so on, then YES it will be hard. But if you do smart things -- like using open source throughout, like realizing that in any email environment at most 1% of the people will be storage hogs and it's silly to design an entire infrastructure just to deal with them, like paying attention on mailop/postfix/courier/sendmail/dovecot/imap/etc. mailing lists, like figuring out that basic traffic analysis will give you an awfully good first approximation to the whitelisting you'll need -- then it's just not that difficult. Or expensive.

3. The corpus of mail generated and received by a university community has value -- monetary and otherwise -- to third parties. Therefore there exists a nonzero set of potential buyers. Within that exists a subset who have sufficient funding and sufficient motivation to attempt to acquire it. And within that exists another subset who will succeed. When email is outsourced, the most cost-effective and expedient path to that goal is to identify someone who works for the outsourced supplier and bribe or blackmail them. If they're even modestly clueful, they'll be able to maintain full plausible deniability. Granted, this risk exists even with university employees, but at teast (a) they have a dog in the fight and (b) they're subject to university discipline.

Bottom line: the myth that email is hard/expensive is just that. It's really quite easy and quite cheap, when done in-house and done properly. And while doing it in-house doesn't guarantee privacy, security, or anything else, it's a far better bet.

Re:Universities should NEVER outsource email (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957475)

But it's still cheaper and easier to use google apps. Especially when the premium services are provided free to educational institutions. If Google screws up, it does not neccessarily mean you're at fault either.

Re:Universities should NEVER outsource email (1)

Arrogant-Bastard (141720) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957769)

But it's still cheaper and easier to use google apps

(a) No, not if you have competent IT staff, it's not and (b) should universities REALLY have email service provided by the lowest bidder?

With respect to (b), email has been an integral part of campus communication systems for 20+ years. It carries everything from class assignments to administrative discussions to sports chit-chat to well, EVERYTHING else. It's a key part of the function of the university by now, and because it is, much of what it carries needs to remain private, for varying values of "private". Outsourcing to someone who says that they can do it cheaply -- and then of course will just cookie-cutter another mail service instance just like all the other ones -- shows really poor judgment. Doubly so when the chosen outsource vendor has a very, very, very long history of miserable performance on privacy issues. Triply so when there is no reason on the table (at the moment) to believe that they'll attempt to defend it against wholesale harvesting by government agencies. (Your own university might not either, or they might not do so very well -- but historically, universities as a class have shown vastly more spine than Google has. And at least if they're compelled to, you have a decent chance of finding out that they have -- whereas with Google, you're likely to hear nothing.)

Incidentally, I've run email services ranging in size from "a few" to "a few million" users, and I've run some of them in academic environments -- i.e., I'm not speculating.

when my school mail switched to google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39957445)

i celebrated because it's vastly improved service and now some grad student working part time as a sysadmin can't snoop my emails so it actually improved "real world privacy" even though I know some guy at google could still read my shit but since he doesn't go to school with me and my friends I don't care.

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