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Can My University Monitor My Email What are our rights Introduction Historically on college campuses there is a certain adversarial dynamic between the Associated Students student government and the University AdministrationCabinet Along with this dynamic comes the realization that the University AdministrationCabinet carries power over the Associated Students much like an employer to an employee They can veto the AS budget if so desired or even not allow the AS to spend their budget or use University facilities On this train of thought I began thinking about how this situation applies to our technologically dependent CSUMB community Does the University AdministrationCabinet of any school have the authority to check students email accounts It seems to be an easy question to look up the answer to and yet the answer lies in the interpretation of many rules and regulations Some of these have been recently established and others currently in legislation Arguments The Electronic Communication Privacy Act ECPA I began my search in what better place to find newly passed laws the Internet In 1986 the Electronic Communication Privacy Act ECPA was passed This is a patchwork of provisions relating to the interception of disclosure of electronic mail by anyone not a party to the communication However it contains numerous exceptions including one allowing the owner of a system to inspect or disclose mail as a necessary incident to the rendition of his service or to the protection of the rights or property of the provider of that service 2 In other words if a necessary feature of systems administration involves inspecting the contents of messages there is no ECPA violation Employee v Epson America As with many issues presented by relatively new technologies there is not a great deal of law directly on point Courts of often asked to extrapolate from existing law protecting privacy rights in non-computer contexts to carve out additional rights of
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