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S&S = NSA?

The other day when we reviewed the experience that befell the Freshman at the hands of Dartmouth’s Safety & Security private guard service and the Town of Hanover Police department, we noted that he had been tracked using the College’s Direct Access system. Each time he swiped his student ID to enter a dormitory, S&S was made aware of his location — a type of surveillance that a previous Dean of Residential Life had publicly promised would not occur.

Well, it turns out that some students believe that Direct Access is not the only way S&S can track you. The complicated registration profile required to access the Dartmouth Secure Wifi network, it seems, enables S&S’ computer folks to track individual students with even more precision.


Before the implementation of Dartmouth Secure, the Dartmouth Public network let users on without specifically identifying themselves. Dartmouth Secure is just the opposite. Your security certificate lets it know who and where you are.

Dartmouth Secure.jpg

The student response? Some undergrads swap the ID information used to log on to the network. That way when S&S is looking for John, they will find Jane, and vice versa. Clever. As long as John uses Jane’s ID and Jane John’s, there is no way that the College can know that they have gamed the system.

Addendum: Your cellphone can be tracked with extraordinary precision, as this NYT story and video, Attention, Shoppers: Store Is Tracking Your Cell, notes:

Like dozens of other brick-and-mortar retailers, Nordstrom wanted to learn more about its customers — how many came through the doors, how many were repeat visitors — the kind of information that e-commerce sites like Amazon have in spades. So last fall the company started testing new technology that allowed it to track customers’ movements by following the Wi-Fi signals from their smartphones.

Big Data1.jpg

If the College used the same system, it could follow you (or at least the person using your ID) around the campus in real time, and it could keep a record of your location on a second-by-second basis.

Dartmouth, do you know where your students are?


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