Information and news tends to come from many strange source but I was really surprised to find a nasty piece of news in the Göteborg Uni student newspaper. To put it bluntly Göteborg University has made a series of larger or smaller errors. Some just bad ideas while others really bad ideas.
In order to ensure that all students can be reached and to be able to take full advantage of information technology someone decided to provide all students with “official” emails ending with @student.gu.se – on the face of it this may seem like a good idea but I really have no idea why. It would have been better to allow/demand/require all students to register an email address but I don’t want to get into that part right now.
The second mistake was to decide to manage the email system themselves. Which resulted in a couple of years of mismanagement, a lot of frustration and a final collapse of the whole system. Ok, so I am exaggerating it was not a collapse but basically the university admitted defeat – and it is here where the local student newspaper comes in – and have handed the administration of the email to Google.
Now this is a development which has been happening without much fuss all over the world Trinity College Dublin, Arizona State University and Linköping University (another Swede) but it kind of hits me square in the nuts when my home university adopts the scheme.
So why does it bother me that Google has taken over student email at Göteborg Uni? Why does it seem that I am the only one who is bothered by what is supposed to be a comforting fact that the students will still have @student.gu.se as their mail?
What really bugs me is that the university has basically sold its students. Not only that, but the university is a public authority and as such should not be promoting a private company in this way. The University of Gothenburg has approximatly 50,000 students (25 000 full-time students) and 5,000 employees. This public authority is then used to demand of it’s 50 000 clients that they must become reliant on a private company.
As if this wasn’t enough the recent Swedish FRA law allows surveillance of all communications that pass through Sweden. Since Google’s servers are outside Sweden this means that all the students email will be under surveillance.
This is wrong in so many ways but nobody seems to be reacting to the fact that univesities are pimping out their students for the sake of technical simplicity – when this is not necessary!