CLUH Seeks Greater Computer Freedom

Urges Explicit Rules of Network Conduct

Harvard should permit students to send obscene, annoying and anonymous electronic messages and should offer unlisted e-mail accounts, the Civil Liberties Union of Harvard (CLUH) argues in a report distributed to administrators yesterday.

The 10-page Report on Computers at Harvard also advocates the compilation of a single list of electronic communication rules and more student representation on the Committee on Information Technology (CIT).

"Computers have become such an integral part of communication on campus, and there's such a lack of clear rules," said E. Michelle Drake '97, director of CLUH, in an interview last night.

"We want to make sure that rules are public, and privacy and free speech are protected," Drake added.

Robert W. Yalen '95, who headed the CLUH subcommittee which published the report, expressed optimism that the suggestions would be imple- mented.

"We really do expect most of what we're askingfor to be endorsed by the administration," saidYalen, who served on the CLUH's Electronic RightsProject.

"Harvard is more sensitive to free speech andprivacy issues than other universities, so we'rehoping that the problem is that the computersituation has risen so quickly that Harvard hasn'thad time to respond properly," Yalen said.

"For years we've been working on scatteredissues, but we decided we needed a concerted,coordinated response" to Harvard's rules onelectronic communication, he added.

Yalen said his committee initially focused ondetermining just what constituted Harvard'spolicies.

"We were trying to look up what the rules wereand it was nearly impossible," Yalen said.

He said the pamphlet Computer Rules andEtiquette lumps real rules with suggestedetiquette, leaving students unclear about what isbanned.

"From my experience helping people, studentsoften don't know what the rules are and what theycan and can't do," said Mathew W. Williams '97.

Yalen said the committee hopes that a list ofrules will be the first outcome of the report.

"That's of basic importance," he said. "Badrules are a problem, but not even knowing what therules are leaves a student not knowing how tobehave."

Jeff C. Tarr '96, co-president of the studenttechnology group Digitas, said he supports betterpublicized rules. But Tarr said he is skepticalthat a list can be created.