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Policy on the Appropriate Use of Information Technology

University of Minnesota Duluth

Original policy approved by the UMD Campus Assembly on February 6, 1996

Revision approved by the UMD Campus Assembly on April 11, 2005

Revision approved by the EPC Subcommittee on Information Technology and Library, November 1, 2010

1. All-University Policies

UMD is part of the University of Minnesota System, and as such, is bound by all-University policies. See Section 9 of this policy for an extensive list of related policies. In particular, the University policy on Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources applies to UMD. Many other policies and standards set by the Office of Information Technology (OIT) also apply to UMD.

2. Purpose

Users of information technology as well as the institution have both rights and responsibilities. The purpose of this document is to provide guidance to the UMD campus community in the appropriate use of campus information technology resources. These resources are valuable and must be used with care and respect, both for the resources themselves and for the members of the campus community who use them. Moreover, members of the campus community must be aware that there are local, state, and federal laws which govern many of our activities, including those that involve information technology. Information Technology Systems and Services (ITSS) bears a particular responsibility for providing quality services, protecting data privacy and intellectual property, and maintaining system security.

3. Limited Resources

Information technology resources are both expensive and limited. Although the amount of usage may vary among users, all users should avoid excessive usage, especially when it impacts upon the usage of others. All members of the campus community are responsible for protecting the resources provided by the taxpayers of Minnesota and the customers who pay for usage.


Users should not permit anyone else to use their computer accounts for any reason. Accounts are funded in a variety of ways, and each user should acquire the type of account that most closely matches the usage of the account. Allowing another person to use your personal account allows that person to avoid paying the appropriate fee for service; you are helping steal resources and compromising security. Passwords must be kept secure.


No one who is provided with a computer account for their work as a student, faculty member, or staff member of UMD should use this account for work not specifically authorized for that account. This includes, but is not limited to, unauthorized commercial use, providing or hosting services for an organization or effort external to UMD or the University of Minnesota, use for personal financial gain, or excessive personal use. Special external accounts are available for such activities. Individual participation in professional organizations, individual activities related to civic engagement, as well as reasonable and moderate personal use, are allowed. Individuals who make considerable use of the Internet and network services for personal use should establish service with a private vendor for these activities. If you have questions about this particular rule, please do not hesitate to ask the Director of Information Technology for assistance.


UMD will make every effort to provide computers and computer services to meet demands; however, there are reasonable upper bounds on computer usage. Excess amounts of central processor time or disk usage will be checked for on central systems, as will excess amounts of printing on public printers. Instructional, research, and administrative computing take precedence over personal computing. Users should avoid sending chain letters and unnecessary mass mailings, generating unnecessary output, creating unnecessary multiple jobs or processes, and creating unnecessary network traffic. Excessive use of bandwidth, which is often associated with peer-to-peer file sharing, is prohibited.


No one who has been issued a personal long-distance access code for business purposes should allow any other individual to use this code. Faculty and staff with business access should not use their codes for personal long-distance calls. Because the University gets a tax reduction on business calls, it is not legal or ethical to make personal calls, even if restitution is made. See also Personal Long-Distance Telephone Calls under Use of University Equipment and Services in the University of Minnesota Policy Manual.


UMD employees are discouraged from significant use of UMD technology resources for personal activities during regular work time. This includes, but is not limited to, personal Internet searches, personal email, game playing, personal downloading, and any other activities that are not work related. Such activities should be limited to break times or other non-work times and should not be excessive at any time.

4. Privacy

Users of UMD computer, telephone, and voice-mail systems expect security of their accounts and privacy of information stored in their accounts. Information Technology Systems and Services will make all reasonable attempts to provide such security and privacy for users. Nevertheless, there is no absolute expectation of privacy for data on University-owned computers.


Users should keep passwords and access codes to University systems secret; do not share these with anyone and keep them secure. See Password Tips and University of Minnesota Password Standard for more information. Administrator passwords to desktop computers may be shared with trusted technology staff who need to provide services to these machines.

Report any suspicious account activity to Information Technology Systems and Services by calling (8847) or sending email (helpdesk) to the ITSS Help Desk. See also the University of Minnesota Guidelines for Using Information Technology Resources. Security breaches must be reported following the University of Minnesota Policy on Reporting and Notifying Individuals of Security Breaches.


Members of the campus community who are expecting to leave UMD permanently should work with Information Technology Systems and Services to dispose of information stored in their accounts or on their computers appropriately. Human Resources provides a check list to be used for this purpose. Information Technology Systems and Services reserves the right to close accounts and dispose of information stored in them if no arrangements are made to save this information. In some cases, the University may claim the right to information produced by employees as part of their regular duties. Rights to intellectual property are governed by the Regents Policy on Commercialization of Intellectual Property Rights and Procedures for the Intellectual Property Policy. Access rights to data are governed by Public Access to University Information and Internal Access to University Information.


All users should be aware that information transmitted electronically is very easy to forward on to others. Users should avoid sending out any information by email or voice mail that they wouldn't want to see distributed widely. Moreover, private data should not be posted publicly on web sites.


University employees with access to private data must take all reasonable precautions to protect that data. Data that are downloaded from University Enterprise Systems are only as secure as the desktop computer on which they reside. Employees working with private data must comply with the University of Minnesota Policy on Securing Private Data, Computers, and Other Electronic Devices. All University employees are bound by state and federal laws protecting data. These include the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act (Data Practices), the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001, and others. Under HIPAA, health care providers and others with access to protected health information are charged with keeping this data private. Under FERPA, faculty and staff with access to private student data, such as grades, are charged with protecting this data.

5. Network Citizenship

All users of UMD technology services should act as good network citizens and good stewards of our resources.


All users should be aware that information transmitted electronically, by telephone, voice mail, or computer systems, is subject to the same rules and laws that apply to written and oral communications. Information that others view as abusive, profane, pornographic, threatening, libelous, or sexually, racially, or religiously offensive may be addressed under other university policies, such as the Student Conduct Code or the Policy on Sexual Misconduct.


Users of the telephone, voice mail, email, or other campus communication systems who receive harassing or nuisance communications must file a formal complaint with either the Campus Police or the Office of Equal Opportunity before any action will be taken. The office receiving the formal complaint will then request that ITSS staff collect relevant information to aid in an investigation.


Network users may not access materials via the network that are prohibited by law, such as child pornography.


Network users may not participate in spamming (sending unsolicited email to large groups of people), chain letters, or similar activities that are a nuisance to others on the network.


Network users may not use campus communications systems to impersonate another person for purposes of deception or fraud.

6. Property

Software and information stored on computer systems or transmitted over computer networks are considered intellectual property. Much of it is protected by copyright law and rules governing plagiarism.


Users must comply with the "fair-use" provisions of the federal copyright law. See the UMD web site on copyright information for more detailed guidelines. Music or video commonly traded with peer-to-peer file-sharing services is almost always copyrighted. Downloading and sharing of copyrighted information may be illegal depending upon various factors. UMD will take appropriate action when we receive complaints about such activities under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Students living in UMD residence halls must comply with the ResNet Terms and Conditions.


All members of the campus community must abide by the terms of all software licensing agreements. Absolutely no software piracy will be tolerated. The network may be used to obtain and use shareware, freeware, or other software provided distribution rules, licensing, and copyright law are followed.


Users may not use UMD resources to gain access to either local or remote accounts or computers which they are not authorized to use. Users may not try in any way to obtain inappropriately a password for another person's account or to change the password of another person's account without permission.


Users must not attempt to circumvent data protection schemes or uncover security loopholes on either UMD computer systems or remote computer systems.


Users must not attempt to monitor or read another person's electronic mail or other data transmissions without permission. Users may not read, copy, change, or delete another person's files or software without permission of the owner, or appropriate administrative authority under exceptional circumstances.


ITSS backs up all data stored on ITSS central computer systems nightly. Backup files are retained so that data can often be restored if it is lost unintentionally. Data that is deliberately deleted might also continue to exist on backup files. Data that is requested under court orders or freedom of information requests may need to be recovered from backup files and provided, despite user intentions to delete it.

7. System Security

Actions that cause the telephone system, voice-mail system, computer systems or networks at UMD to fail or to become significantly impaired are absolutely forbidden.


Users are required to keep their servers and desktop computers secure by using up-to-date antivirus software and applying all critical security patches to operating systems as soon as ITSS authorizes them for release. For more information, see: Assistance and training in meeting these requirements is available from Information Technology Systems and Services.


Absolutely no physical abuse, destruction, or theft of equipment, wiring, software, data or supplies (paper, toner cartridges, disks, etc.) will be tolerated.


Absolutely no misuse of the telephone system, the voice-mail system, computer systems, the computer network, or other systems on the network will be tolerated. This includes, but is not limited to: breaking into, halting, slowing down, or breaching security of any of these systems. In particular, introduction of any of a range of programs known as computer viruses, Trojan horses, or worms is expressly forbidden.


Users must not attempt to corrupt or circumvent software supplied by the University.


Users may not attempt to disguise the identity of the account or machine or the nature of the work for purposes of deception, fraud, or mayhem.


(From the University of Minnesota policy on Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources.) The University assigns responsibility for protecting its resources and data to system administrators and data custodians, who treat the contents of individually assigned accounts and personal communications as private and do not examine or disclose the contents except:
  1. as required for system maintenance including security measures;
  2. when there exists reason to believe an individual is violating the law or University policy; and/or
  3. as permitted by applicable policy or law.

8. Acknowledgments

This policy was developed and revised by the Educational Policy Committee's Subcommittee on Information Technology and the Library. Approval of changes comes from the Educational Policy Committee, the Campus Assembly, and the Chancellor.

This document rests upon University-wide and Regents policies regarding the use of information technology. See the next section for links to related policy and procedure documents.

9. Related Policies

© 2017 University of Minnesota Duluth
The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.
Last modified on 07/16/13 10:07 AM
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