Cambridge Net users: they're watching you

The Net isn't such a fun place after all when you're being watched, find Cambridge students

Internet download activity at Cambridge University's Jesus college came to a standstill recently after the computer department revealed that it is regularly sent lists of precisely what sites people are visiting and what data they are downloading.

The move came as the result of a new policy forcing the university to pay for Internet use. In an effort to reduce needless downloads, the college's computer department sent round a letter announcing that it was to introduce minimal charges and informing students that it knows exactly where they are going in cyberspace.

Instead of simply reducing the number of hefty downloads overwhelming the college's computer network, the revelation led to a cessation of almost all Internet activity, perhaps revealing a concern among students that their online behaviour was being watched.

A spokesperson for Jesus College Cambridge admitted that the internal letter had a startling effect on Internet activity but denied that this had anything to do with the sites students were visiting. He says, "There was simply a campaign reminding people to be aware that they are spending the college's money when they are downloading things and this is why it stopped."

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They can see you... Read about how and why in Surveillance , a ZDNet News Special