UNC Scans Students' Computers for File-sharing Programs
Article by George Norman
On 19 Jan 2011
The University of North Carolina (UNC) wants its students to know that BitTorrent and other file-sharing programs have to be used for legitimate purposes, not to download pirated movies or software, or even adult content from PureTNA. Oh wait, PureTNA and Empornium have been permanently shut down, so there no way to do that anymore.

Getting back to the topic of this article, the university wants its students to be informed about the dangers of using file-sharing software so much that it resorted to scanning their computers in search of BitTorrent and other file-sharing programs. As of Tuesday, the university implemented the Network Access Control service and started to scan the computers that access the internet in residence halls.

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The scan looks for evidence that file-sharing programs are installed on the computer. If a file-sharing program is uncovered, the user is presented with a popup message that warns him about the dangers of illegal sharing and tells the user to securely use the program. Actions like kicking the user off the network will not be taken against the user; legal actions will not be taken against the user either since the mere presence of file-sharing software is not evidence that the user is pirating movies/software.

UNC is required by U.S. copyright law to hold users of the campus network accountable for copyright infringement. If a student is found sharing files illegally, he will be kicked off the network and will have to complete a training course and a meeting with ITS (Information Technology Services) security officials – that’s for first time offenders. Second time offenders will lose access to the network for a longer period of time and will be referred to the Honor Court.

The University of North Carolina spends about $40,000 per year processing copyright complaints. “We encounter weekly issues with students having copyright complaints filed against them from various media organizations, including the MPAA and the RIAA,” said Stan Waddell, executive director for information security at ITS. UNC believes that by implementing the Network Access Control service it will discourage students from illegally sharing files.



Tags: BitTorrent, UNC, University of North Carolina, Network Access Control
About the author: George Norman
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UNC Scans Students' Computers for File-sharing Programs
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