Ryerson students and staff will have to wait a bit longer for an instant messaging system, according to the university’s director of computing and communication services (CCS).
Google Chat, a popular instant messaging program in the Google Apps family available through Gmail, was intended to be a part of the initial rollout of Google Apps at Ryerson during the 2011-2012 academic year. But because of privacy concerns, both Google Chat and Google Voice have been held back.
“We don’t plan to turn (them) on unless Google makes it possible for us to make privacy the default for presence information for everyone at Ryerson,” CCS director Brian Lesser said in an email.
Right now, Google Chat’s default settings make it so the people with whom you most frequently correspond via email show up in the sidebar if they are online, so you can instant message them. The setting can be switched to disable this feature, but since it is not the default setting, the university will not release it for use.
“Under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection Act, the university is allowed to share information among students and faculty when there is a valid academic or administrative purpose,” Lesser said.
Examples of this would be for students in the same course to communicate with each other in an online course discussion for which, presumably, Google Chat could be put to use.
Lesser said that showing when a user is online is a less obvious form of information sharing and, because of that, CCS chose to put installation of the messaging app on hold. Lesser said CCS aligns itself with the industry standard of “privacy by default.”
Google has not yet created a way for the university to change the default setting for their own server.
At the time of publication, Google media representatives did not respond to requests for comment.