UC Berkeley 1st college in US to publish electronic communications transparency report

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Earlier this year, UC Berkeley became the first college in the United States to publish a transparency report detailing nonconsensual requests for electronic communications.

The report, which is available on the Office of the Chancellor’s ethics website, provides statistics on the number of requests for nonconsensual access to the private electronic communication of students, faculty and staff from January 2014 to June 2015.

Additionally, the report provides the number of granted requests and how each approved request was justified, based on the UC Electronic Communications Policy.

William Allison, the director of architecture platforms and integration for the campus’s Information Services and Technology, worked with the Office of Ethics, Risk and Compliance Services — which already tracks nonconsensual disclosures — to publicize the reports. According to Allison, the decision to publish the reports followed similar actions taken by Internet companies to rebuild public trust in the handling of private information after the Edward Snowden revelations.

“It’s instrumentally important that universities be a part of a conversation,” said Deirdre Mulligan, assistant professor of law at the UC Berkeley School of Information. “It’s very useful for the university to be transparent.”

Contact Maxwell Jenkins-Goetz at [email protected].