Policies and Acceptable Use:
Introduction and Purpose:
Computers and other electronic communication devices (ECDs) have become vital tools in accomplishing the University's mission. Most employees and students depend on these devices daily to accomplish their work, and the University invests in and supports a variety of equipment and information technology (IT) related items. These IT resources are not unlimited; however, it is important to assure that they are used appropriately.
The University has a responsibility to assure that they are used legally and in keeping with State Board of Higher Education and NDSU acceptable use policies (AUP) [see Policies and Laws section]. University IT users should be aware that, except where precluded by law, the University has the right to measure and monitor ECD usage, including but not limited to storing, accessing, and reviewing information received or sent through e-mail or over the Internet. Monitoring of an individual's Internet use is possible when requested by the appropriate official. In addition, Internet sites deemed by the University to be unrelated to the University's responsibilities may be blocked, and the University will cooperate with any law enforcement investigation.
If you have questions about appropriate use of electronic communications devices, be sure to discuss it with your supervisor. The NDSU Chief IT Security Officer is also available to answer any questions and help supervisors facilitate a safe and productive work environment.
Guidelines for Incidental Personal Use:
Incidental personal use of University owned ECDs or personal use on University time is acceptable when the use:
- Does not interfere with the person's work performance
- Is of nominal cost or value
- Does not create the appearance of impropriety
- Is not for a political or personal commercial purpose
- Is reasonable in time, duration, and frequency
- Makes minimal use of hardware, software and network resources
Some uses, however, are never acceptable. These include:
- Use for harassment or similar inappropriate behavior
- Use for accessing or distributing sexually explicit, offensive or erotic material
- Violation of copyright laws
- Use for probing or hacking
- Use of non-business streaming technologies that consume significant amounts of bandwidth
- Use of pirated software or data
- Knowingly distributing viruses or bypassing established security
Inappropriate use may range widely in seriousness and impact on the other users. Often misuse can be addressed by the supervisor or administrator in the unit where it occurs. On some occasions, however, the misuse may represent a major violation of acceptable use. The University has established procedural guidelines for investigating an alleged major violation of acceptable use.
Summary of Procedural Guidelines:
Initial discovery of a potential AUP violation can result from a number of triggering events which include but are not limited to:
- Bandwidth and network monitoring
- Complaint by a supervisor, other employee or person
- Inadvertent discovery during routine service or maintenance
- Legal copyright complaint (includes copyrighted materials such as music, movies, software, etc.)
- Creation or distribution of SPAM or other network abuse
- Law enforcement query or subpoena; open records request
The NDSU Chief IT Security Officer will be notified if they are not already aware of the problem. The appropriate Dean(s) or Director(s) will be notified as soon as possible so that there can be an initial decision or meeting established with the Appropriate Use Review Committee* (AURC) to assess the situation and agree on an appropriate course of action. The alleged violator will not be notified until this discussion has taken place and a decision when to notify the alleged violator has been made. A course of action is determined that can include monitoring and/or seizure and examination of equipment and related IT items (for example: computers, communication devices, hardware, software, media).
Occasionally, emergency action might be necessary so that the NDSU Chief IT Security Officer may not be able to contact all the above officials before an action is taken. If criminal violations are suspected, appropriate law enforcement will be notified. Outcomes of the investigation could include the following determinations: no violation, violation of law or policy, and/or possible criminal violations. Sanctions, if a violation is found, could include, but are not limited to: verbal caution; letter of warning; loss of computer and/or network access; referral to the Employee Assistance Program; referral for training and education; letter of reprimand; suspension with or without pay; and termination of employment. Any criminal process is separate but can also be considered when deciding on appropriate sanctions. The employee may use the normal employment appeals processes for any sanctions imposed.
*Members of the AURC include the Director of Human Resources, Vice President for Equity and Diversity, General Counsel and the Chief Information Officer or their designees.
Policies and Laws:
NDSU Policy 158 - Acceptable use of Electronic Communications Devices
NDSU Policy 158.1 - E-mail as an Official Communication Method for Employees
NDSU Policy 710 - Computer and Electronic Communications Facilities
NDUS Policy 1901.2 - Computing Facilities
NDUS PROCEDURE 1901.2.1 Authorized use
NDUS PROCEDURE 1901.2.3 Freedom from harassment and undesired information
NDUS PROCEDURE 1901.4.2 Imposition of sanctions
NDUS PROCEDURE 1901.4.3 System administration access
NDUS PROCEDURE 1901.4.4 Monitoring of usage, inspection of electronic information
NDCC § 12.1-20-05.1: Luring Minors by Computer
NDCC § 12.1-06.1-08: Computer Fraud - Computer Crime
NDCC § 12.1-27.2-04.1. Possession of certain materials prohibited
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