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General Use of Computing and Network Resources

Members of the university community are encouraged to utilize the resources that are available on the campus wide network and the internet. Access to these resources is provided to students, faculty, and staff for a wide variety of purposes. These resources are limited, and how each individual uses them may impact the work of other members of the university community and beyond. It is important that university users be aware of their individual obligations and what constitutes proper use and behavior.

In general, common sense is an excellent guide to what constitutes appropriate behavior and use of these resources. Users should utilize resources in a manner that is consistent with the instructional, research, public service, and administrative objectives of the university.

Appropriate use and behavior demonstrates a respect for:

  • the rights of others to privacy;
  • intellectual property rights (e.g., licenses and copyrights)
  • ownership and custodianship of data and information resources;
  • system mechanisms designed to limit access;
  • the ethical use of state-owned resources; and
  • the right of individuals to be free of intimidation, harassment, and unwarranted annoyance.

Users should note that their usage is also governed by federal and state laws as well as university policies. Violation of State and Federal laws or university policies may result in immediate suspension of access privileges, with referral to appropriate university authorities for consideration of other appropriate penalties.

Behaviors which can create problems fall into the following categories. This list, while not exhaustive, should provide the basis of what constitutes illegal or unethical on-line behavior.

  • Break-Ins
    • Users may not attempt to gain access to computer systems on or off campus to which they have not been granted access.
  • Theft
    • Under the terms of the Berne Convention and the copyright laws of the United States and most other nations, all intellectual property is granted copyright protection as soon as it is committed to a tangible medium, including information resident in computer files.
    • Users may not copy or redistribute software or other information, whether or not it is copyrighted, without the explicit permission of the owner.
    • Users may not attempt to override copy protection on commercial software. See UPPS 01.04.24, Policy on Copyrighted Microcomputer Software for more information.
  • Annoyance and harassment
    • Users may not use the network in any way to harass another user of the network.
    • Users may not deliberately attempt to disrupt the performance of a computer system or a network, on or off-campus.
    • Users may not attempt to break system security.
    • Users may not re-configure computer systems to impair or otherwise compromise their intended function or to make them partially or totally unusable by others.
    • Users may not attempt to destroy or alter data or software belonging to other users.
    • Users of the Residential Computing Network (ResNet) shall not modify any wiring or extend ResNet to provide access to anyone outside of its assigned locations.
  • Eavesdropping
    • All information on a computer system "belongs" to somebody; some may be private or personal information and some may be confidential, such as trade secrets or classified material.
    • Users may not read, execute, or access a file owned by, or in the custody of, another user unless permission has been granted by the owner or custodian.
    • Users may not seek to intercept network transmissions intended for other users of the network.
  • Forging, password sharing, password stealing
    • Users may not attempt to impersonate another individual by sending forged information such as E-mail.
    • Users should never give their password to anyone.
    • Users may not seek to determine another person's password, through cracking, decryption, interception or other means.
  • Negligence and misuse
    • Users have general responsibility for the computing activity which takes place in their account(s).
    • Users are responsible for any files stored in their account(s) and for computing activity generated from their account(s).
    • Computer accounts are generally limited to Texas State students, faculty, and staff. Individuals or organizations not associated with the university are not granted accounts unless specific approval is given by the President or his/her designee.
    • Users may not use the university's computing and network resources for personal business or profit-making activities.

Use of Electronic Mail

Members of the university community are encouraged to use electronic mail, or email, for university-related activities and to facilitate the efficient exchange of useful information. Access to email is a privilege and certain responsibilities accompany that privilege. email users are expected to be ethical and responsible in their use of this technology. email messages should meet the same standards for distribution or display as tangible (hard copy) documents or instruments. The author should be clearly and accurately identifiable in all electronic communications. The author of an email message should never conceal or misrepresent his name or affiliation to dissociate himself from responsibility for his actions. Alteration of the source of an electronic message or posting is always unethical and may be illegal.

Email users must be sensitive to the inherent limitations of shared network resources. No computer security system can absolutely prevent a determined person from gaining unauthorized access to stored information. While the university has no interest in regulating the content of email, it cannot guarantee the privacy or confidentiality of electronic documents. Good judgment dictates that email messages be created and transmitted with the understanding that email is no more secure than other forms of communication, and that email may be an inappropriate vehicle for transmitting personal and/or confidential information.

Email users must respect the rights of others, and must not send abusive, threatening, or harassing materials to other users. While debate on controversial issues is both inevitable and essential, it is each user's responsibility to do so in a way that advances the cause of learning and mutual understanding.

Email users are expected to promote efficient use of network resources consistent with the instructional, research, public service and administrative goals of the university. Users must show consideration for others and refrain from engaging in activities that would interfere with the work of others, or otherwise disrupt the intended use of network resources. E-mail users should avoid wasteful and disruptive practices, such as initiating or forwarding "chain letters" or "broadcast messages."

Email and other network resources may not be used for commercial purposes or for personal gain (Gov. Code 403.273d, Penal Code 39.02a). This does not preclude the use of E-mail to assist in the investigation and support of vendor's products, such as the discussion of a product's relative advantages and disadvantages by users of the product, the distribution of information or technical support material by request, or vendor responses to questions about their products. It is inappropriate to advertise personal items via email.

The same standards of conduct expected of students, faculty and staff regarding the use of telephones, libraries, campus mail and other institutional resources apply to the use of email. Users will be held no less accountable for their actions in situations involving E-mail than they would in dealing with other university resources. Users are expected to abide by the security restrictions of all systems and information to which they have access. email users should avoid any communication where the meaning of the message, or its transmission or distribution, would be illegal, unethical or irresponsible. Conduct that involves the use of information resources to violate a university policy or regulation, or to violate another's rights, is a serious abuse. Such conduct will subject offending users to limitations of their computing privileges and other disciplinary action as appropriate to the situation.