August 6, 2020

Crackdown at the Naval Academy

According to The Capital, which appears to be a local newspaper in Annapolis, officials at the Naval Academy have seized the computers of nearly 100 midshipmen (i.e., students at the Academy) because of suspected file sharing activity.

Some people paint this as an “RIAA goes after the Navy” story. But based on the newspaper article, it looks like a “Naval Academy goes after its students” story. It appears that the RIAA sent the Naval Academy the same letter that it sent to many universities, and the Academy then decided on its own to take this action.

Will this put pressure on other universities to do the same thing? Perhaps not, because of the special status of the Naval Academy. Students are members or quasi-members of the Navy and hence have less privacy and autonomy than most students do; and the computers in question arguably belong to the Navy anyway. In any case, it will be interesting to see how the Navy proceeds.