MIT Tracks Students’ Movements Via Network Connections

MIT seems to like to experiment with ways of tracking its students.

LawMeme reports that MIT has granted students access to information about its network traffic perviously available only to network administrator’s. Students can now log in and view the a map pinpointing all the devices connected to the network (laptops, wireless PDAs and even Wi-Fi equipped cell phones). Students can choose to have their identities linked to devices and displayed on a wireless map. Red dots on one map show the highest concentration of wireless users on campus. On a separate map, yellow dots with names written above them pinpoint individual users who have chosen to reveal their identities. Apparently, students can’t opt out of this system – they only have the choice as to whether their traffic will be identifiable. CNN also covers the story.

Katherine McDaniel at LawMeme provides some commentary, but I disagree with her. She states:

At first, I was disturbed by the idea of being tracked. But then a friend reminded me that anyone with a cell phone is locatable within a 100 feet range at all times because of Federal regulation enacted to ensure 911 emergency service.

Just because other technologies are tracking your movements doesn’t make this instance (or any other) acceptable.

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