Dalhousie University has announced it will not be renewing its contract with internet-based plagiarism detection service Turnitin.com.
The university’s chief information officer cited privacy concerns over the protection of student information, which can be requested from parent company iParadigms by law enforcement agencies.
As iParadigms is an American corporation, all records to which it has access are subject to government requests under the US Patriot Act, and the company is prohibited from notifying targeted individuals.
“Not only does turning student papers over to Turnitin for review make students vulnerable to American government surveillance, the company archives the papers and uses the growing number of papers in its database to market its service,” said CAUT executive director James Turk.
CAUT has raised concerns generally about faculty and student records being stored with US-linked corporations because of privacy implications.
“It’s important to note the issue is not about location and actual possession of personal information by a US entity,” said Turk. “The law allows US police and security agencies access to personal information or records acquired by any US-linked corporation, whether or not the information is stored on servers in the United States.”
More than 2,500 post-secondary institutes worldwide use Turnitin to check students’ papers for originality, and the company boasts over 150 million archived student papers.