Information Technologies

Responsible Computing at the University of Delaware

Section: Information Technology Policies
Policy Name: Responsible Computing at the University of Delaware
Policy Owner: Executive Vice President
Responsible University Office: Information Technologies
Origination Date: October 14, 1992
Revisions: April 1, 1996; May 15, 2003; December 15, 2003; April 23, 2004; July 1, 2005
Legacy Policy Number: 1-14
  1. PREAMBLEIn keeping with the University’s commitment to preserve and protect academic freedom and to promote the free exchange of ideas in an open collegial community, the University respects the reasonable privacy expectations of its employees and students in all communications by mail, telephone, and other electronic means, subject only to applicable state and federal laws, University policies and regulations, and system maintenance requirements.

    Access to computing and information resources is provided for students, faculty, and staff within institutional priorities and financial capabilities. The Policy for Responsible Computing at the University of Delaware contains the governing philosophy for regulating faculty, student, and staff use of the University’s computing resources. It spells out the general principles regarding appropriate use of equipment, software, and networks. By adopting this policy, the Faculty Senate recognizes that all members of the University are also bound by local, state, and federal laws relating to copyrights, security, and other statutes regarding electronic media. The policy also recognizes the responsibility of faculty and system administrators to take a leadership role in implementing the policy and assuring that the University community honors the policy.
    1. There are circumstances under which the University may have a legitimate need to read private computer data, including e-mail records or to monitor electronic transmissions. These circumstances include, (1) compliance with legal obligations in judicial proceedings; (2) requests from civil or law enforcement authorities; (3) IT system administration and maintenance, and (4) investigation of suspected violations of University policy. In such circumstances, the University will endeavor to provide fair notice of monitoring or inspection to affected employees consistent with the University’s legal obligations and the goals of the investigation.
    2. The University will not engage in random monitoring of written or electronic communications.
    3. The following framework will apply whenever the University has a need to read private computer data, including e-mail records or to monitor electronic transmissions.
      1. Necessary Action – Exceptions to the policy may be authorized only when reasonably necessary to protect the security of the University, its communications system, and the academic process, and when there is good reason to believe that the individual employee or student has violated law or University regulations. For example, claims of sexual harassment where the accused may delete/erase e-mails exposing the University to adverse claims; claims of child pornography; reason to believe that a specific user is endangering the technical integrity of the University system, etc.
      2. Consultation and Authorization – Exceptions to the policy may only be invoked by persons with responsibility and authority for administering the law or regulations within the University (e.g., University police, computer security officials) and only after consultation with the Provost and/or the Vice President for Administration.
      3. Accountability – Normally in applying any exception to the policy, the affected individual shall be notified in advance unless conditions necessitate immediate access or notification would compromise an ongoing criminal or University investigation. Records of any exception must be kept; the records should be made accessible to the affected individual, unless such access would compromise an ongoing criminal or University investigation. Information collected must be kept secure and be used only for the intended purpose. A report will be made annually to the Faculty Senate, which will include the number of exceptions during the reporting period and the general nature of the reasons for the exceptions.
    4. All members of the University community who use the University’s computing and information resources must act responsibly. Every user is responsible for the integrity of these resources. All users of University-owned or University-leased computing systems must respect the rights of other computing users, respect the integrity of the physical facilities and controls, and respect all pertinent license and contractual agreements, and use any electronically transmitted information within the “Fair Use” guidelines or with the permission of the author. It is the policy of the University of Delaware that all members of its community act in accordance with these responsibilities, relevant laws and contractual obligations, and the highest standard of ethics.
    5. Access to the University’s computing facilities is a privilege granted to University students, faculty, and staff. Access to University information resources may be granted by the owners of that information based on the owner’s judgment of the following factors: relevant laws and contractual obligations, the requestor’s need to know, the information’s sensitivity, and the risk of damage to or loss by the University.
    6. The University reserves the right to limit, restrict, or extend computing privileges and access to its information resources. Data owners-whether departments, units, faculty, students, or staff–may allow individuals other than University faculty, staff, and students access to information for which they are responsible, so long as such access does not violate any license or contractual agreement; University policy; or any federal, state, county, or local law or ordinance.
    7. University computing facilities and accounts are to be used for the University-related activities for which they are assigned. University computing resources are not to be used for commercial purposes or non-University-related activities without written authorization from the University. In these cases, the University will require payment of appropriate fees. 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. This policy applies equally to all University-owned or University-leased computers.
    8. Users and system administrators must all guard against abuses that disrupt or threaten the viability of all systems, including those at the University and those on networks to which the University’s systems are connected. Access to information resources without proper authorization from the data owner, unauthorized use of University computing facilities, and intentional corruption or misuse of information resources are direct violations of the University’s standards for conduct as outlined in the University of Delaware Policy Manual, the Personnel Policies and Procedures for Professional and Salaried Staff, the Faculty Handbook, University collective bargaining agreements, and the Student Guide to University Policies and may also be considered civil or criminal offenses.
    9. Implementation

      Appropriate University administrators should adopt guidelines for the implementation of this policy within each unit and regularly revise these guidelines as circumstances, including–but not limited to–changes in technology, warrant. The Vice President for Information Technologies shall, from time to time, issue recommended guidelines to assist departments and units with this effort.
    10. Enforcement

      Alleged violations of this policy shall be processed according to the judicial processes outlined in the University of Delaware Policy Manual, the Personnel Policies and Procedures for Professional and Salaried Staff, the Faculty Handbook, University collective bargaining agreements, and the Student Guide to University Policies. The University of Delaware treats access and use violations of computing facilities, equipment, software, information resources, networks, or privileges seriously and may also prosecute abuse under Title 11, 931-941 of the Delaware Code, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986, or other appropriate laws.