Canada's Globe and Mail is reporting on one university that is experiencing a serious backlash for rolling out Google Apps. LakeHead University used Google's free online email and collaboration tools to replace an aging infrastructure, and has successfully saved the school hundreds of thousands of dollars. The backlash is not from the system itself, which has proven effective and user-friendly, but because the US Patriot Act give the US government the right to access virtually any data, at any time, hosted by US companies (Google included).
Professors say the Google deal broke terms of their collective agreement that guarantees members the right to private communications. [Tom Puk, past president of Lakehead's faculty association,] says teachers want an in-house system that doesn't let third parties see their e-mails.
More to the point,
For instance, a Lakehead researcher with a Middle Eastern name, researching anthrax or nuclear energy, might find himself denied entry to the United States without ever knowing why. "You would have no idea what they are up to with your information until, perhaps, it is too late," Mr. Puk said. "We don't want to be subject to laws of the Patriot Act."
Unfortunately, this is preventing more widespread adoption of these genuinely useful, money-saving tools:
Some other organizations are banning Google's innovative tools outright to avoid the prospect of U.S. spooks combing through their data. Security experts say many firms are only just starting to realize the risks they assume by embracing Web-based collaborative tools hosted by a U.S. company, a problem even more acute in Canada where federal privacy rules are at odds with U.S. security measures.