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Press Release:
ECURE 2004 Investigates Research Data, Patriot Act

September 2004

There was good news and bad from presenters this year at ECURE 2004. The e-records conference provided updates on progress in data access and management, and bad news about new challenges – and now you can read about it and see it online! Video-streamed keynote speeches and presentation slides for the ECURE 2004 conference have been added to the ECURE Website Archives at www.asu.edu/ecure/. ECURE 2004 was made possible by generous support from this year’s sponsors, Adobe Systems, Inc., ProQuest Information and Learning, and the Coalition for Networked Information.

The fifth ECURE conference hosted by Arizona State University provided attendees with an invigorating mix of theory, practice, insight, and the wisdom that can only be gained from experience. Warning flags were raised concerning government policies for data access in the post-9/11 environment. New inspiration was offered from the four corners of the continent and Antarctica. Top information professionals from the United States and Canada presented issues in preserving digital research records, risk management for Web resources, considerations in implementing a multi-university federated search system, the arguments for and against digital signature preservation, combining resources to build an integrated digital repository, and ILM storage challenges.

In his pre-note address, David Sobel, general counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center, described "serious implications" of the PATRIOT Act for the privacy of student records and other university records systems. The PATRIOT Act expands the government's ability and authority to obtain a wide range of information, and "limits the role of the courts…in overseeing what the government is accessing and what it's doing with it," Sobel said.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center and other organizations are "trying to provide some measure of accountability into the process of government data collection," Sobel said. They have been frustrated by the gag order provision of the Patriot Act that makes it difficult "to have a real sense of how broadly this authority might be used," and by censorship of the information that has been released in response to their requests.

Anti-war free speech at a student conference at Drake University prompted the serving of an investigative subpoena, which the school has been fighting, Sobel said. The CAPPS II system developed by the Transportation Security Administration enables computerized profiling and background checks of airline passengers, with no apparent provisions for appeal or error correction.

Clifford Lynch, Executive Director of the Coalition for Networked Information, presented an update and overview of emerging issues including data management requirements of funding agencies and the convergence of data management, recordkeeping, publishing and archiving. The National Institutes of Health have now established data management and public accessibility requirements for all grants exceeding $500,000, according to Lynch. "I think that what we're seeing here in some sense is a convergence of sort of traditional records concerns, the movement of a lot of the teaching and learning processes to digital form, the real transformation of how we're doing scholarship…It’s getting real hard to tell what's a record, what's research, what's teaching and learning."

A call for presentation proposals for ECURE 2005 is now open at www.asu.edu/ecure. The next ECURE conference will expand the theme introduced in 2004, exploring the topic of academic research activity and its interaction with the access and management of electronic data and resources. Information on the call for presentations, which closes Nov. 1, 2004, can be found on the ECURE Web site.


Jeremy Rowe, ECURE co-chair, jeremy.rowe@asu.edu
Rob Spindler, ECURE co-chair, rob.spindler@asu.edu