Wednesday, November 15, 2006

You Can't Hide From Our Spying Eyes

It's a sad day when universities in neighboring countries have to take steps to protect their staffs' research from being spied on by the U.S. government. That day is here:

Concerned about the U.S. government's prying eyes, a number of Canadian universities are changing the way their professors and students conduct online research.

Many university libraries subscribe to RefWorks, a popular U.S.-based Internet tool that allows academics and students to create personal accounts and store research information, as well as generate citations and bibliographies.

But the Patriot Act -- which grew out of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and which potentially allows U.S. authorities to sweep through databases such as RefWorks -- has prompted Canadian postsecondary institutions to abandon the American server for one housed at the University of Toronto.

"There is certainly concern within Canadian university libraries. It's a concern about a foreign country having access to your personal information without good cause," said William Maes, librarian at Dalhousie University in Halifax. "That's the devious thing of the Patriot Act, they can do this without letting anybody know."

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