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EDUCAUSE Policy: 2012 in Review

In a year where the political scene was dominated by a national presidential election and efforts to avert the fiscal cliff, what is probably most notable about Internet policy is the inaction of the Congress and the modest efforts of federal agencies waiting to see if they would have four more years to implement the Administration's policies.  Although the federal government appeared as if it were in a holding pattern during much of the year, EDUCAUSE Policy moved forward with several new initiatives and strengthened existing efforts.

The Campus IT Policy Workshop made its premiere in June at Chicago and December at San Diego.  The purpose of the workshop is to provide a highly interactive venue for discovery and discussion of approaches, definitions and tools for developing IT policy and shaping an IT policy program.  In addition to highlighting policy frameworks and exploring the campus policy process, the experiential workshops focused on contemporary policy challenges such as acceptable use, social media, video surveillance cameras, and bring your own device.  In 2013, we will hold a single face-to-face workshop in the summer and will augment the program with online webinars throughout the year that focus on a specific policy issue.

Privacy and cybersecurity remain critical concerns of campus IT staff and the Obama administration who are sensitive to the civil liberties interests for balancing privacy with new security initiatives.  This delicate balance is perhaps most visible in the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace that kept its momentum moving in 2012 by establishing the Identity Ecosystem Steering Group to provide an open process for “organizations and individuals to participate in the ongoing coordination, acceleration, harmonization and development of the Identity Ecosystem Framework; the overarching set of interoperability standards, risk models, privacy and liability policies, requirements and accountability mechanisms that structure the Identity Ecosystem.” The comprehensive legislative proposal for cybersecurity developed by The White House in 2011 and presented to Congress did not get the necessary votes to pass the Senate with an opportunity to be reconciled with a similar, although more controversial, version that was passed earlier in 2012 by the House of Representatives.  The White House continues to mull over the possibility of an executive order to address the concerns to secure critical infrastructures and we can expect the Congress to take up the issue again in 2013.

EDUCAUSE Policy worked together with the entertainment industry in April to host a workshop on effective practices and challenges to implementing the peer-to-peer filesharing provisions of the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA).  The workshop was notable because of the evidence of cooperation between higher education and the music and movie industries to address illegal filesharing at colleges and universities.  It was also apparent that concerns about piracy in foreign jurisdictions as well as through the use of domestic, private Internet Service Providers have overtaken the problem that originated in higher education who were the first to make broadband widely available.  Because of the growing concern about piracy in other parts of the world, the entertainment industry moved aggressively in 2012 to secure passage of SOPA and PIPA.  After a seemingly unstoppable momentum first in the Senate and then in the House, higher education associations, public interest groups, and technology companies weighed in to express their opposition to the heavy-handed approach that could potentially undermine Internet security.  The SOPA and PIPA proposals went down in flames culminating in blackouts by major Internet companies as an expression of protest.  Meanwhile, campuses continued to conduct elearning and produce as well as use digital content in ways that challenge the application of copyright laws.   EDUCAUSE Policy has promoted a project designed to raise awareness about Fair Use in Academic and Research Libraries and organized an EDUCAUSE Live webinar to address The Direction of Fair Use for Education.  We have also been probing The Copyright Conundrum and expect to announce new programs and initiatives in 2013.

The accessibility of digital course materials, campus websites, and electronic textbooks (etexts) are getting increased visibility on campus.  After the publication of the report of the Advisory Commission on Accessible Instructional Materials in Postsecondary Education for Students with Disabilities in December 2011, much of EDUCAUSE Policy's focus in 2012 turned to the EDUCAUSE and Internet2 eText Pilot