U, de petitionaris

Statement against forensic research of email accounts at Erasmus University

11 ondertekeningen

We, members of the Dutch academic community, are deeply concerned about the recent decision of the Executive Board of Erasmus University to hire an external forensic bureau and authorize it to search the email accounts of some of its employees. The decision creates a culture of fear at the university, undermines the value of academic freedom, and violates the employees’ privacy.

In a English interface

Petitie

Wij

Members of the Dutch academic community

 

constateren

  • Recently the Executive Board of Erasmus University decided to hire an external forensic bureau and authorize it to search the email accounts of some of its employees.
  • The decision creates a culture of fear at the university, undermines the value of academic freedom, and violates the employees’ privacy.
  • The measure also raises serious doubts about its compatibility with the spirit and possibly also the letter of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), if not altogether with fundamental human rights (e.g. Article 8 of the ECHR).
  • We understand that in grave circumstances an organization retains the right to scrutinize its employees’ email communication. In this case, however, the decision seems to be a disproportionate response to a suspected leak regarding alleged plagiarism committed by interim-dean Dymph van den Boom.
  • Even if such leakage did indeed take place, it is debatable how an employee disclosing possible plagiarism of a higher-ranking colleague can be accused of severe wrong-doing.
  • Given that the Executive Board was explicitly informed of the strong suspicion of plagiarism and decided to discard this information, behaviour of such employee appears legitimate and deserves to be protected.
  • It would be the act of a whistle-blower bringing under public scrutiny dubious conduct and remedying the institution’s omissive behaviour.
  • This sequence of events leaves little doubt that the Executive Board’s decision to implement covert surveillance on its employees encroaches at least upon academic freedom and integrity.
  • Moreover, it sends a damaging signal to its employees that their email accounts are an unsafe means of communication, resulting in a culture of fear.

 

en verzoeken

We urge the Erasmus Executive Board to:

  1. Immediately stop the forensic investigation.
  2. Give full disclosure of the investigative steps taken and email accounts that have been compromised by investigation.
  3. Refrain from using any of the information obtained by the investigation.
  4. Apologize to the employees whose email accounts were investigated.
  5. Adopt appropriate measures to protect whistle-blowers.
  6. Provide proper safeguards to their employees in the extreme case the Executive Board considers adopting measures of covert surveillance.
  7. Revise the current EUR Regulations Governing Use of Internet and IT Facilities in order to ensure they are fully compatible with the GDPR, with human rights and with core academic values, particularly academic freedom and integrity.

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Details

Ontvanger:
universiteitsbestuur 
Petitieloket:
Petitionaris:
Olav Velthuis 
Organisatie:
University of Amsterdam 

Geschiedenis

Ondertekeningen