Saturday, January 27, 2007

A bombshell

Last week, a bombshell was dropped on all students of IIT. Please note the item 3 below.

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INDIAN INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY, BOMBAY
OFFICE OF DEAN STUDENT AFFAIRS

19th January 2007

A meeting of the committee consisting of the following members were
held to discuss matters relating to computer and network usage by
students when the following members were present:

Prof. P. Gopalan, Dean, SA Convener
Prof. Anurag Mehra, Head, Computer Centre Member
Prof. Nand Kishore, Chairman, HWC Member
Prof. G.Sivakumar, Head, CSE Member
Prof. Raghav Varma, Warden, Hostel 10 Member
Prof. C. Amarnath, Ex-Dean, SA Member
Gen.Secretary, Hostel Affairs Member
Gen.Secretary, Academic Affairs Member
Mr. Swapnil S. Sachdev Invitee (MLC)
Mr. Parijat Garg Invitee

Item No 1:
Video streaming :
The committee decided that video streaming in inter and intra hostels
should be disallowed. For using this facility prior permission from
Head, Computer Centre should be obtained.

Item No.2:
Download limit:
The committee put a download limit of 3GB per month.

Item No.3:
Time based ban on internet access in hostels:
The committee had the requested to the students to give their inputs
in September 2006, but no inputs were received at that time, however
during the meeting the students proposed that internet access be
blocked between 2 am and 6 am. However, the committee decided that LAN
access only be available in hostels between 12.30p.m to 11 p.m.
Student dissent was noted. This policy would be effective from 26th
January 2007. It was agreed to review the policy after a period of two
months.

Item No.4:
Illegal Content :
The Head, Computer Centre brought to the notice of the students about
signing of an IT policy of the Institute by every student, which
says that they would use the IIT network to download any illegal
content on any computer connected to the Institute network for which
they are responsible. It was also discussed that the Institute
network is being used to disseminate “illegal materials” like films,
songs etc. by persons running ftp servers on their computers. It was
decided that it will be the task of the elected representatives
(councils) to report this to the Wardens for further action. It was
decided that a poster would be put up by 31st January 2007 after the
same has been vetted by Prof. Sivakumar and Head, CC. The poster
would explicitly spell out the consequences in case of violation
relating to the use of IIT network for the disseminating illegal
contents in any form.

(P.Gopalan)
Dean,SA

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There are a lot of highly legitimate complaints over the way the IIT has handled this issue, over the way a professor on the above committee acted silly and childish in the faculty-students meeting, over the way the student representatives in the committee handled this. At the end of the faculty-students meeting, the DoSA (Dean of Student Affairs) informed us that the LAN Ban implementation has been postponed by 1 month in order to give departments enough time to get the labs ready (as if _anything_ in IIT can happen in 1 month).

My reactions are somewhat confused. While it is very easy to cry "Dictatorship" over this (and we have) and I think 13 hours is a bit too much (and I have put this forth in faculty-student meeting that was held after a storm of protests) and I am concerned that quite a lot of legitimate academic activities will be hit, I also remind myself that with every right comes a responsibility and a requirement of self-discipline to use it rationally. I bet we students failed to do that, what with computer addiction, gaming addiction, etc.

Update: Latest info about the ban here.

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