School network: can my activity be traced?

No, I’m not trying to circumvent the law here. I’ve recently taken to downloading video files en masse from sites such as, ebaumsworld, and, then watching them, and burning ones I see fit to keep, and deleting them from my hd. The problem is that I don’t want to do this much if the computer people can track what I’m doing. (I’m paying 112 dollars a semester just for internet, damn right I’m gonna use that bandwidth) I’m worried that they’ll think I’m just illegally d/ling music or something, I think. Or will they be able to look at my sites viewed and tell that it’s legit?

Did you sign something when you paid the $112? It should say how much tracking they do on the contract, if indeed there is a contract. Is this your own computer, but their bandwidth, or does the school own the computer in question too?

Nope… didn’t sign anything. That’s just my “technology fee.” Doesn’t even include my “Communications fee,” which may also have something to do with internet, but that one’s only 60 dollars. But I didn’t have to sign anything relating to that. And it’s my computer.

Yes at some level, your network activity can be and is tracked by your ISP in some fashion, whether it be at a router log, proxy server log, or some other program.

I can also tell you that for the most part (depending on your ISP) the majority of this traffic is not activly monitored. It usually will be actively monitored if they find a problem with the service or if law enforcement is investigating someone.

School networks are sometimes heavily monitored. If nothing else, many places will monitor the networks just to see where the most network transfers are coming from/going to. If they get a lot of traffic from certain sites, they’ll take a look at the site to see if it should be banned. Sometimes sites that aren’t even offensive or illegal get banned just because they cause the school’s network to be overloaded from too many people trying to access it.

School networks usually have a lot of rules about what you can and can’t do on them. It’s usually not something you sign. In most places you are expected to read the rules before you use the school systems.

Also, it’s their network. They are allowed to monitor anything on it.

It’s quite likely that they will be able to monitor every aspect of your traffic, if they can be bothered - so it shouldn’t be the case that any innocent action will look like anything other than innocent. If you’re not doing anything wrong, why worry? If they do accuse you of downloading elephant porn, you’ll just be able to show them your collection of perfectly innocent downloaded videos.

So what happens when they take my computer away to investigate and find my gigs and gigs of elephant porn? :eek: :o

Trouble - of some description, I would guess.

Most likely you are not the only one on the college campus doing this. I work for a company that uses Network Sniffers on a regular basis(for trouble shooting), and if your school really wanted to “watch” what you are doing they could.
For example if the FBI thought you were a serial killer, it would be very easy to track every click, every page your browsed, every data packet you send and receive.
The thing is, unless you are causing problems for others on the college network, they will not be concerned and allow you (and others) to continue your downloads. I would think your download speeds would be limited by the source (I know mine are) to a speed which won’t bring the college to a crawl.
It takes me about 6-10 hours to get a 650mb movie. That’s techchnically slower than 56k dialup. (if I did the math right, if not, I am sure we’ll hear of it :wink: )

(650000000 / 56000)
( 11607 ) / 60sec /60min =3.2 hours

Well, nothing, so long as the elephants in question are all above the legal age…:wink:

Your math seems about right, but your understanding of 56k modems is a bit off. They do not download at 56 kilobytes per second, as your calculation assumes. They download at a maximum of 56 kilobits per second, which is basically 7 kilobytes per second (less, after overhead is taken into account).

So, a 650 meg movie over 56k dialup should take:

650,000,000 / 7,000 = 92,857 seconds

92,857 / 60 = 1,547 minutes = 25.78 hours.

And this is the absolute minimum theoretical time that it would take, with no overhead and no network interference or slowdowns. IIRC, in my old 56k dialup days, 650 meg probably would have taken closer to 30-35 hours.

BTW, if it’s taking you 6-10 hours to download 650meg, and you’re on a high-speen LAN, then the slowness of your speed probably has more to do with the source than with the network itself.

I’m on plain vanilla 768k DSL, and if the host site runs properly and the network is working fine, it takes me just over 2 hours to download 650 meg. But sometimes, the source site runs more slowly. For example, i download the free movies from the Prelinger archives, and my download speeds are sometimes only about half my regular download speed. This is mainly due to their servers, i think, and the load that they have to bear.

In the university residence where I work the students have a bandwidth quota; which if they go over they cannot reconnect until the end of the month. If I remember correctly they are limited to a gig(?). There was also the threat of permanent disconnection if caught downloading music illegally. I believe the students were required to download a program which monitored internet activities.

Re. the OP:

I believe that most universities have some sort of netwrok use policy. In my experience, these policies generally make clear that the school does its best to respect the privacy of student network use, and that it does not habitually monitor the content of such activity, but that it reserves the right to keep an eye on what’s going on, especially when misuse or illegal activity is suspected.

Here’s a segment from my own university’s IT policy (note: pdf):

And, on issues of content:

The only reference made to pornography in the whole 15 page document comes under the heading of “Criminal Offences,” and applies only to accessing child pornography and distributing pornography to minors.

In fact, the only time i’ve seen any openly-stated policy regarding pornography at my school, the statement quite explicitly said that viewing porn constituted freedom of expression and freedom of research. Someone wrote a letter to the Head Librarian complaining that some people were using library computers to view porn on the internet. The librarian responded that the comlainant had no way of knowing the reason that those people had for viewing the porn, and that the librarian was not going to start making judgement calls based on what offended some people, because that would have the effect of stifling free and open inquiry and expression.

Personally, i think that anyone who feels the need to “research” pornographic images in an open, public space like the library has some issues and is rather inconsiderate, but i’m glad the librarian took the stance that she did.

Unless, of course, we are talking about pink elephants …


Oh no! It’s kiddie elephant pr0n!!!

(So, are there any magazines that would cater to my fetish so I don’t have to put it on my computer?)