Italian universities started to sell students' privacy to big corps through email accounts

Florian Weimer fw at
Sun Aug 23 12:39:40 UTC 2015

* Paul Boddie:

> On Sunday 23. August 2015 12.57.14 Florian Weimer wrote:
>> * Valentino Santori:
>> > I would like to report a very bad situation for student's privacy in
>> > the public education system, here in Italy. Many universities, and as
>> > far as I know even high schools, are migrating from self-hosted mail
>> > servers to propietary, big-corp's owned email accounts. This without
>> > any chance to refuse the creation of this account, because this is
>> > created during the subscription to the faculty, and without any
>> > privacy agreement.
>> There is a privacy agreement, the question is whether you like it.
> It's more than whether there is a privacy agreement, though. As others have 
> noted, it's also about whose terms of service you have to agree to, and even 
> whether someone effectively signs you up for those terms without your 
> knowledge. Should a student have to enter into contracts with random (and 
> typically foreign) companies?

I'm sure universities have subcontracted some of the services they
provide basically since their inception.  With proper terms, there is
nothing wrong with that, especially if it helps to bring down costs of
secondary services, freeing up resources for core serivce offerings.

> Although this is true - while following up to earlier messages I
> noticed that my most recent academic employer had experienced yet
> another unintentional disclosure of personal information - many
> larger organisations do apparently have substantial expertise in the
> appropriate areas.

This does not match my experience with university IT infrastructure.
Experience, yes, but adequate resources?  Hardly.

>> I also don't think this has to do much with free software, so it's
>> probably off-topic for this list.
> On the contrary, if we were all comfortable with people signing us
> up for agreements without our knowledge, we'd probably all be happy
> to use proprietary software with the zoo of exotic contractual
> animals it tends to cultivate.

Seems rather speculative to me.

A lot of free software aficionados are also happy Gmail users, and
have agreed to terms that are, on paper, extremely far-reaching and

> And also, the use of Free Software is directly impacted by this
> cloud-pushing agenda, meaning that the viability of Free Software is
> affected since, just as it is when people decide to spend large sums
> on proprietary software, beneficial investment is withheld from
> improving Free Software that competes with those cloud
> products.

That's a separate discussion, but I fail to see how it relates to
privacy.  And as far as I can tell, the FSF (US) does not consider a
healthy community of developers are primary goal, the priority is end
user freedom.  The GPL v3 even contains an explicit permission to use
cloud providers tu ron proprietary, GPL-derived software.

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