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Feb 27, 2014 01:05 PM EST

Privacy Policy For Email Searches Proposed At Harvard


Harvard University in Massachusetts may be required to notify most people when their emails, text messages, or voice mails are searched by administrators, The Boston Globe reported.

A faculty committee recommended on Wednesday that the Ivy League school adopt policies designating specific officials to authorize email searches and other electronic records- and in most cases - to inform anyone whose email is searched, The Boston Globe reported.

The suggestions come after 14,000 of the university's email accounts were secretly accessed by the administration in 2012.

The committee found that the university did not have clear policies on the issue. 

"The absence of a single, visible, and comprehensive policy has led to confusion and uncertainty," the task force wrote in its 29-page report according to The Boston Globe.  "Most troubling, it has led some to distrust [of] the process for deciding how and when access to information transmitted over, or stored on, University systems, networks, and devices may be undertaken."

The proposed policy emphasizes that there must be a legitimate or important research for such searches, Inside Higher Ed reported. They also said that an email account holder's standing as a tenured professor, student, or employee would have no bearing on a request to search their records.

Instances where the university would not be required to notify a user of records search include emergencies and times when the university is legally barred from notifying someone, The Boston Globe reported.

In March, Harvard University's President Drew Faust asked a group of professors and administrators to make recommendations after the 2012 controversy in which thousands of emails were covertly searched "to determine how information about a massive student cheating scandal was leaked to a Boston Globe reporter," according to The Boston Globe.

"While many of the changes we face are complex and have yet to emerge fully, I believe that we now have a much clearer understanding of how we might navigate the road ahead," Faust said in a statement.

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