Saturday, February 02, 2013

Avoid a Personal Ground Hog Day

A story of local interest provides a reminder to all in higher education that those tools and toys we work with each day really do belong to the institution, and for those public universities, the state.  As one former football coach discovered, yes they can get your texts.  Now we can add a former university president and yes, they can get your browsing history.

A sordid detail emerges from the much larger investigation into former University of Central Arkansas President Allen Meadors.  Meadors pled guilty to evasion of the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act after his resignation from the school.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette poured over the now released investigation file to discover that UCA officials discovered Meadors was viewing porn on his work computer as well as his university provided iPad.

It was discovered when the campus IT department wondered how Meadors was managing to blow through caps on hundreds of dollars of data plan purchased when he traveled abroad.

Computer folks understand it -- Meadors didn't have the sense to clear his cache and browser history.  He also was undone by the data left behind by Google searches.  The ADG is behind a pay wall, but here is one key quote in the story.

Dur­ing the in­ter­views, state po­lice also learned about the pornog­ra­phy and gath­ered ev­i­dence, in­clud­ing pic­tures of nude women and sex­ual en­coun­ters in­volv­ing men and women.

“We are go­ing to use this ev­i­dence you might re­cover” from Meadors’ elec­tronic items as “lever­age to get the sus­pect ... to take a guilty plea,” Rick New­ton, a se­nior spe­cial agent with the state po­lice, wrote to the agency’s com­puter foren­sic lab­o­ra­tory in a Jan. 11, 2012, mem­o­ran­dum.

You can read more about that, and other follies of FOIA, from the open Arkansas Times.  Be warned -- some of this is NSFW.  Maybe you can explain to IT that you were just doing research on another university's investigation.

Bottom line remains -- digital assets are extremely portable, easy to copy and distribute and as this case proves, can last forever.

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