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Wesleyan will keep its Internet services private.
Posted 03.16.07

Computer Protocols Changed to Insure Private Network

Wesleyan will adjust its computer network access protocols in order to remain exempt from an order by the Federal Communications Commission that requires facilities-based Internet service providers to engineer their networks to assist law enforcement agencies in executing wiretap orders.

The changes, intended to ensure that the university's network is viewed as "private" and thus exempt, include requiring log-ins for access to the campus wireless network, kiosks and library computers. To facilitate guest use, each Wesleyan user will be able to request as many as five guest accounts through the electronic portfolio; each guest account will remain active for three days. ITS expects to have these changes implemented in May.

The 2005 FCC order extends the terms of the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) to facilities-based Internet service providers. CALEA is a federal law that requires providers of commercial voice services to engineer their networks in such a way as to assist law enforcement agencies in executing wiretap orders. Only private networks are exempt from the FCC order. Analyses by EDUCAUSE and the American Council on Education support the use of two criteria in determining whether a college or university can hold itself exempt: it may not own the hardware that connects its network to the Internet, and it must authenticate all users who access the Internet from its network. The hardware Wesleyan uses is owned by the Connecticut Education Network.

The right of law enforcement agencies to legally intercept all forms of communication, including the Internet, and use the results as evidence in a court of law has existed since 1968. CALEA does not change the legal requirements to wiretap. CALEA requires providers to engineer their systems to make wiretapping easier and less expensive for law enforcement; in doing so, it places what can be a significant financial burden on the provider.
 
By Justin Harmon, vice president for Public Affairs