Information Technologies

Employees' Use of E-Communications

Section: Information Technology Policies
Policy Name: Employees’ Use of E-Communications
Policy Owner: Executive Vice President
Responsible University Office: Information Technologies
Origination Date: February 2000
Revisions: April 2003; March 2004; July 1, 2005; April 10, 2009
Legacy Policy Number: 1-19
  1. INTRODUCTIONThe University provides resources for electronic communications (e-communications)–clients, servers, a campus-wide network and access to the Internet–to its employees to use in the course of doing their jobs. E-communications provide for efficient communication between co-workers and management and enable electronic business transactions. This policy establishes the applicability of existing University policies and federal, state, and local law to e-communications, expectations for privacy and requirements for good electronic community citizenship.
  2. RELEVANT UNIVERSITY POLICIESEmployees must abide by all relevant University policies in using e-communications. These include, but are not limited to, the policies for Electronic Mail Management and Retention, Use of University-Wide Electronic Mailing Lists, Departmental Information and Records Management, Responsible Computing – A Manual for StaffInformation Security, Policy Against Unlawful Forms of Harassment, Sexual Harassment, and the codes of ethics for faculty, and professional and salaried staff and the Statement on Academic Freedom.
  3. PRIVACYThe University respects the reasonable privacy expectations of its employees in the interest of promoting academic freedom and an open, collegial atmosphere. The University will not engage in random monitoring of written or electronic communications. Nonetheless, the University owns its e-mail system and can limit and/or restrict access to it, as it deems necessary. The University’s policy for doing so is defined in Policy 1-14, Policy for Responsible Computing at the University of Delaware. While the University does not routinely monitor telephone conversations, e-mail, internet access or usage, or other electronic transmissions, it may be required to do so by civil authorities. Title 19, section 705 of Delaware Code requires Delaware employers to notify employees of the possibility that their electronic transmissions may be monitored, and to obtain acknowledgment of this notice. Therefore, the University reserves the right to do so, at any time and without further notice. The most likely circumstances in which monitoring may be necessary are in troubleshooting systems, pursuing violations of University policy, and requests from law enforcement authorities and the courts.

    To comply with the state law requiring acknowledgment of this policy, this and other University Information Technologies policies are described in Responsible Computing-A Manual for Staff. After familiarizing themselves with the Manual and its supporting policies, employees must indicate their understanding and compliance with them as described in the Manual.

    The University owns all e-mail sent and received and can limit and restrict access to the University’s e-mail system. Furthermore, e-communications are subject to discovery by a court of law and can be used as evidence in litigation. “Discovery” is the legal process that permits a party to obtain relevant information that is in the possession of another party. The University is obligated to cooperate in legal proceedings. Electronic mail messages are records that could be found in many places such as, file servers, back-up tapes, copies sent and then forwarded to others, electronically even after you think you have “deleted” them for good.
  4. PERSONAL E-COMMUNICATIONSPersonal use of e-communications is expected to be incidental. That is, personal e-mail, phone calls, instant messaging, must not interfere with the work an employee is expected to do and it must not consume resources that are needed for University business. Employees must exercise care that no personal e-communications posted to newsgroups and discussion lists appear to be an official communication of the University of Delaware or disclose the University of Delaware’s proprietary information. All e-communications, whether for personal purposes or University-related purposes, are subject to review and monitoring by the University as set forth above, and all personal e-communications are subject to all of the same rules and policies as e-communications sent for University-related purposes.
    1. Employees are expected to be courteous and respectful in their e-communications in accordance with established codes of ethics and the common rules that have evolved regarding e-mail, sometimes referred to as Netiquette.
    2. Employees must not use University e-communications resources for personal commerce, for fund-raising, or for partisan political purposes. The State-created University Charter prohibits the Management of the University to benefit any party, sect, or denomination. Employees may choose to participate in any of the above activities but cannot use University resources to support their personal activities.
    3. Employees must not send chain letters, pyramid scheme messages, spam or other messages not related to University business. These are an irresponsible waste of computing resources and an inconsiderate nuisance. Chain letters and pyramid scheme messages are also a violation of federal law.
    4. Employees must not send sexually explicit, offensive, demeaning, insulting or intimidating e-communications, ethnic or racial slurs or anything that harasses or disparages others. Sending such messages is grounds for disciplinary action, including termination of employment.
    5. Employees must not violate copyright laws, trademark laws, or other laws in sending e-communications, publishing web pages or posting to newsgroups and discussion lists.
    6. Employees may use University of Delaware institutional mail lists only with appropriate authorization.
    7. Messages sent out over the Internet or World Wide Web (e.g., e-mail messages sent to people other than those on a University computer system) are not routinely encrypted before leaving the University. Although the probability of an Internet e-communication being intercepted (and possibly disseminated publicly) is small, sensitive communications and documents should not be sent through the Internet without being encrypted. Questions concerning encryption should be directed to
    8. Mass electronic mailings to communicate with the University community must be related to the mission or business operation of the University and must be approved by the appropriate member of the senior administration or their designee (Legacy Policy 1-21).