Policing online campus networks becomes expensive for colleges

By Christine Adolf
November 6, 2008

Congress not to enforce new requirements to fight illegal file-sharing. Colleges say that they are already paying thousands of dollars to monitor, prevent and discipline online behavior.

Congress is trying to pass several laws to prevent foul-play of copyrighting and of people breaking the laws that are set.

The law is to help make campuses aware of illegal downloading of documents and music. The law also helps to persuade colleges to be firm and strict with their on-campus rules about illegal downloading. The law also pushes for colleges to follow through with consequences if students are caught in the act.

The lawmakers took no notice and ignored their pleas. They promptly implemented several new mandates.

Many colleges have had to slim down their budgets with the pending economic slowdown and downfall.

It becomes hard for technology departments on campuses to monitor and prevent peer-to-peer activity.

Campus networks are so exceptionally open and large that it is hard to have eyes on it 24 hours a day.

“The use of the network is a shared resource and while it is not the college’s policy to prevent users from having peer-to-peer software, the Acceptable Use Policy and the overriding DMCA prohibit downloading and sharing copyrighted information,” John McIntyre, director of information, technology and resources, said.

The Campus Computing Project, the largest study of colleges’ use of information technology, performed a survey honing in on peer-to-peer issues. Peer-to-peer issues are problems Cabrini was having a few weeks ago.

McIntyre informed the campus of the problems in his e-mails and kept the campus up to date.

Colleges are “required to consider the use of technology-based deterrents” in developing plans to counter illegal peer-to-peer activity.

“As for tracking, the network traffic is monitored for number of concurrent connections into and out of campus. A pattern of hundreds or thousands of connections is sufficient to slow or halt traffic for all the users sharing it,” McIntyre said.

The cost for trying to prevent illegal peer-to-peer sharing has steadily risen over the last two years. According to “The Cost of Policing Campus Networks,” published online at insidehighered.com, the cost for a private college, such as Cabrini, was approximately $29,171 for the 2007-2008 academic year with software licensing fees, hardware costs and other miscellaneous costs.

“I think it’s important for Cabrini to police the network because it could cost more money to fix the problem after it occurs than it could to police the network regularly,” Dana Nardello, sophomore special education major,said.

Spending money to police the college’s networks will be put to use to help students stay safe and out of trouble.

“I think it will be a waste of money because people will always find ways around blocks and be able to access banned sites or programs. Banned sites like Limewire should be stopped at the source, instead of going after students who are drawn to the idea of free downloads. The corporations are responsible for allowing illegal downloading and they should be reprimanded,” Jamie Tadrzynski, freshman secondary education and history major, said.

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Christine Adolf

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