Clampdown on academic freedom at #UBC blamed on spam law #ubc100 #ubcnews #ubysseynews #bced #caut_acppu

by Stephen Petrina on May 13, 2016

Administrators in the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia clamped down on academic freedom today by shutting down its shared listserv after 17+ years in what looks like a knee-jerk reaction.

In addition to blaming the clampdown on faculty members for sharing “their own perspective regarding one or more aspects of the work and trajectory of the Faculty,” the reasoning given was Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL), effective 1 July 2014.

The Dean and Associate Dean explained:

In response to changes to the requirements for the organizational use of email at UBC following the implementation of the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL we have made some changes to how we are using Faculty-generated broadcast email lists. These changes only apply to those email lists created and moderated by the Faculty. The major implication of CASL resides in the definition of “consent” to email exchange.  Following the implementation of CASL, we need to be attentive to email recipients’ implied or actual consent to receive emails.

While CASL specifically addresses the intent of a “commercial electronic message” (CEM) and spam, UBC administrators have decided to stretch this to all messages and email, warning that email to a colleague, and one might infer student, who has not given “consent” to be a recipient can be grounds for legal or punitive action.

The CAUT’s initial analysis leaves faculty members wanting:

CAUT will monitor the enforcement of the CASL, and will provide members with any relevant updates as these decisions may provide further clarity about what the law means for academic staff associations.

The implications here are scary but more frightening is UBC managers’ inability to distinguish between academic and commercial messages or distinguish between the legalism of spam and academic freedom.