Recently a reader sent me the following question after reading my post on Dropbox as a backup solution:
I adopted Dropbox as your column suggested. It is wonderful. Now I am wondering about the legalities. There are certain things that faculty are not supposed to use university equipment for such as political work, and research that is not part of our university job. It occurs to me that if I access my Dropbox from the university equipment, the argument could be made (if someone really wanted to) that the university then has rights to that material, or the right to complain about the activity. Any thoughts on this?
I had some thoughts on this question, of course, but I didn’t think my limited experience with university hardware qualified me to offer them—at least not with any authority. But the question does matter to me. As a new faculty member, I just received my first employer-owned laptop, and while I don’t think installing Dropbox there opened me up to any legal reprecussions, I’d like to hear from the wider ProfHacker community on the matter. So, wider ProfHacker community, what do you think? Might an institution look askance at Dropbox installed on university equipment? Must ProfHackers keep separate Dropbox accounts for personal and professional files? Let us hear your thoughts on this question in the comments.