Arizona State University blocked access to the website change.org after it was used to spam thousands of university email accounts in early December 2011. Since spam emails are frequently used to distribute viruses and other malware that is installed on client machines without the recipient’s notice, the university routinely blocks both inbound and outbound access to sites that distribute spam to stop the propagation of malware and the associated compromise of an individual’s personal information or the security of university accounts and information. The university blocks spam emails regardless of their content.
ASU strongly supports the First Amendment and an individual’s or group’s right to free speech. The university also strongly supports privacy and an individual’s right not to be subjected to the receipt of spam or the associated security risks that can come with such email. As most internet users know, many sites systematically collect email addresses of visitors to the website in order to use them to later solicit those users to further engage the site, to increase overall traffic on the site and to enhance revenue that may be earned by the site from advertising or transactions conducted on the site.
The university acknowledges and understands the expression of concern from some members of the community who desire access to change.org from university computing resources. In order to seek a balance between those concerns and protecting the university computing environment, the university has removed the restriction against site access from university computing resources.