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July 21, 2008 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Patriot Act extends to Turnitin

Students at New Zealand universities face the possibility of being investigated by the American Office of Homeland Security (OHS) thanks to plagiarism software Turnitin.

Turnitin, which is widely used by various Faculties at Victoria, is hosted by a server located in the sovereign soil of the United States. Therefore, any material considered “subversive” of the Patriot Act may be flagged for the attention of OHS.


The Patriot Act was passed by the American Congress as a response to the terrorist attacks of 11 September, 2001. The Act allows federal officials greater authority in tracking and intercepting communications, both for purposes of law enforcement and foreign intelligence gathering.

It works to close American borders to foreign terrorists and to detain and remove “undesirables,” while establishing new crimes, new penalties and new procedural techniques for use against domestic and international terrorists.

Because of New Zealand has a bilateral extradition treaty with the United States, dating back to 1970, a student who might slip a phrase into an essay deemed to undermine or critique American foreign policy may be met with the creation of a subsequent file held with the OHS.

The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade website notes that the 38-year-old treaty has been under review since 2006.


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