Data collection on Dartmouth's Wireless Network

Privacy Statement

Dartmouth has a campus-wide wireless computer network for students, faculty and staff to connect to the network from anywhere on campus. We are studying the traffic on the wireless network to understand how this network is used. To ensure user privacy, this study will maintain user confidentiality and examine only the header information of data passing through the network, and the amount of data being sent over the network. Header information specifies the type of information that is being transferred over the network, and specifically excludes the contents of the data, such as usernames, passwords, filenames, files, or URLs.

The raw data we collect is only accessible to the project staff.

We can identify a computer's hardware addresses (MAC addresses, IP addresses) but not its owner's name.

We log information about which computers (referenced by hardware addresses) are connected to the wireless network at particular times. We know that a particular device was connected to a particular antenna in the network at a particular time. We do not know the identity of the owner of that device. We do know how much data was transmitted. We do not look at the content of this data.

The filenames and content of the information you transfer on the network is referred to as the payload. Our study only looks at the network and application-layer headers (for common applications such as some web browsing and peer-to-peer filesharing). We never examine the payload.

We do not capture or record any data (notably no passwords, credit card numbers, etc.), you may use on the network.

We do not examine the URLs that you browse on the web. We do log the host addresses contacted by Dartmouth wireless users, for statistical purposes, but we never associate sites with users. For example, we monitor the number of on-campus and off-campus connections made, the number of different places connected, the time connected and amount of data transferred, but the identity of the specific sites is never examined or released.

For telephone connections conducted over the wireless network, we record the hardware address of the device, as above, as well as the telephone numbers of origin and destination. Again we use this information only for statistical purposes (e.g., how many phone calls are on-campus, how many local, how many long-distance, how many foreign). We never examine the content of the call (or even record the call itself).

We may release the data to other researchers, after anonymization: we randomize the hardware address and IP address of the computer, randomize the address of any computer it contacts, and randomize all telephone numbers used. We will never release any data that will identify any user, their specific data, or the destination of their network or telephone connections.

All of the data that we collect could be collected by anyone with a computer connected to the Dartmouth wireless network. As the wireless medium is a broadcast medium, any data that you send or receive over the network can be observed by anyone else in the vicinity.

With questions, or for more information, blitz David Kotz.

Or, see the results of an earlier study.

The use of participants in research is overseen by the Dartmouth College Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects. This study (CPHS #17325: Measuring the Dartmouth Campus-Wide Wireless Network) has passed the committee's review. Our project proposal description can be found here.

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