ASCC report reveals ‘unethical spying of students, restriction and censorship’

Amy+Parker+pointing+at+categories

Sophia Castillo

Amy Parker, the Director of Equity and Diversity for ASCC, points out the different categories that are monitored from the College’s website on Jan. 23.

The Director of Equity and Diversity for ASCC, Amy Parker, released her report that claims the college is monitoring data from the WiFi and that her due process rights were ignored throughout her investigation.

Parker did a first reading of the 60-page document on Jan. 23 at 2 p.m., the first student government meeting of the spring semester.

Throughout the document, the two main people accused in the report were Vice President (VP) of Business Services Felipe Lopez and Director of Information Technology Patrick O’Donnell.

The document claims that VP Lopez and Director O’Donnell violated the California Public Records Act and that the IT Department is monitoring information from the college’s public WiFi.

Parker made clear that the monitoring can only happen when on the college’s WiFi and when the student is on campus.

“Once you’re no longer connected with the Cerritos College WiFi network, then they are no longer tracking your information,” she said, “Once you’re off-campus, you don’t have anything to worry about.”

Parker reveals that the library’s reference and instruction coordinator gave her screenshots of “categories of websites that were either allowed fully, monitored/logged or blocked” on Dec. 5.

She explained what the word ‘monitor’ meant in the Dec. 5 screenshots, “It means that there’s an individual entry they can search through saying ‘this person visited this category of site on this day.’”

Some of the monitored categories include personal topics like global religion, abortion and “health and wellness.”

Lopez gave examples of blocked categories that include “Extremist Groups, Gambling, Pornography and Malicious websites.”

The banned categories named by Lopez match the screenshots Parker provided in her report.

However, according to Lopez, “Cerritos contracts a third-party security vendor that monitors all of the logs of our systems for security purposes.”

Lopez said that they don’t look at what students access; Parker argues that even if that’s the case, it’s still a huge issue.

“The fact that Cerritos has the information at all is a problem, and if the vendor is actually looking, that introduces even more problems,” Parker said, “that is extremely concerning.”

“When you log into the Cerritos network, you have to log in with either your name/email address or your student ID,” she said, “because of that, they know exactly who you are and they know it is you in particular.”

Parker also revealed that she submitted three Public Records requests, sending them to Lopez and O’Donnell, but those requests were declined due to a “security risk.”

“A list of the blocked domains or even categories of domains, poses no threat to the college,” Parker said.

Lopez said that users can report websites that are blocked for review and actively block the majority of websites that are requested that should not be blocked.

Talon Marks reached out to O’Donnell and he did not comment but asked us to contact Lopez.

Parker’s hope is that there’s more transparency and she says she wants some of these harmful policies to stop.

“I recommend that we strive for a greater culture of openness and transparency at Cerritos College,” she said.

For the full story and for Parker’s perspective, check out her 60-page document.