Journalists investigated

first_imgThe two student journalists who exposed insecurities in the University computer network are facing a police investigation into their activities in obtaining the story. Proctors of the University have told the Deputy Editor and Sports Editor of The Oxford Student, Patrick Foster and Roger Waite, that a police investigation has been initiated at their request, although the journalists have yet to be contacted themselves by Thames Valley Police. In the article, published on Thursday 27 May, Foster and Waite (the named authors of the piece) admit that the methods used to highlight the lack of security “fall foul of both the law and OUCS guidelines”. The Computer Misuse Act 1990, which prevents the use of computers to access personal information such as passwords, and private conversations, carries a custodial sentence of up to six months. Senior sources at The OxStu have informed Cherwell that the Proctors became aware of the article even before it went to press. “A lot of college IT officers were contacted,” they said, “and one of those must have passed on the details of the article. Once the Proctors had contacted us, we passed full details of the article to them straight away.” Within a matter of hours of receiving this information Foster had his Webmail account withdrawn and it is believed the contents are being investigated. Waite’s was removed on Tuesday. This is a matter of some concern for the students, who both have exams at the end of term. Foster has also been denied Ethernet connection to his room at Keble College. The University and their respective colleges are yet to take any action beyond this, although Foster, already on full academic probation, has expressed public fear that he may face a “three-term rustication”. It is unclear how much detail OUSU, the publishers of The OxStu, knew of the matter before they went to press. But our source was adamant that “other than the journalists concerned, neither OUSU, its employees or Editor Mary Morgan knew anything about it until the day of publication.” Waite and Foster, in a statement issued to Cherwell, stood “100 per cent” behind the story. “We are both aware that we consciously breached the law, University statutes and college regulations through our actions. However we feel we were justified in doing so to bring to the attention of the University and its students the very real dangers posed by network insecurities. “We are co-operating fully with the inquiries of the Proctors and our respective colleges. We have nothing to hide, and are both looking forward to meeting the Senior Proctor to make our respective cases.”ARCHIVE: 5th week TT 2004last_img