Gmail: ‘University should’ve let us vote’
The recent announcement that the RUG’s e-mail systems are to switch to Gmail, allowing FBI officials to closely monitor students’ e-mail accounts without their knowledge, means that the Patriot Act is likely to anger students in Groningen… or will it?
Prayfon Petchposri (25), from Thailand, is indifferent about the issue: ‘I don’t feel that it’ll impact on me hugely, as I only use my University e-mail for University matters’, says the International Law student. ‘But if it’s ever going to affect me, I’m sure it already does, as I use Hotmail which is monitored by the FBI.’
Saudi Arabia’s Rubayyi Saad (23) has much the same opinion, even with reports suggesting that people from the Middle East will be targeted: ‘I am a student, so I am not really considering this as an issue.’
Rubayyi adds, though: ‘If the purpose of the FBI looking through e-mails is to catch terrorists and save lives, I think it could benefit the community, from what I have heard.’
London Economics and Business student Mayowa Odoula (19) feels strongly about the issue and is concerned about the fact that ‘the University didn’t let students know and should’ve let them vote.’
However, Mayowa does see an advantage: ‘In more practical terms, Gmail will make it easier to organize messages and will let students set personal preferences, which is good, as the current system is outdated. But I’m still concerned… what would the U.S. government want to do in European universities?’
Most students were not even aware of the issue before the UK raised it: ‘I had never heard of the Patriot Act before, but now I have, I believe that it won’t influence the way I use the University e-mail or my private e-mails’, say Prayfon.
‘I had never heard of this before, which is really worrying as I should know!’ says Mayowa. ‘I know that the majority of other students won’t be aware of it either and although most won’t care, there’ll be a strong minority who will and will want more information. The University should’ve made students more aware of what is going on.’
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