Information Technology and Computer Use Policy - Benjamin Franklin Institute Of Technology

Information Technology and Computer Use Policy

This policy governs computer and network usage for faculty, staff and students at BFIT.  As a user of these resources, you are responsible for reading and understanding the following documented information.  This documented information protects the consumers of computing resources, computing hardware and networks, and system administrators. (Contact the Director of Information Technology (CMIT) if you have any questions.)

Rights and Responsibilities
Computers and networks can provide access to resources on and off campus as well as the ability to communicate with others worldwide.  Such open access is a privilege and requires that individual users act responsibility.  Users must respect the rights of other users, respect the integrity of the systems and related physical resources, and observe all relevant laws, regulations, and contractual obligations.  Since electronic information is volatile and easily reproduced, users must exercise care in acknowledging and respecting the work of others through strict adherence to software licensing agreements and copyright laws.

Misuse of computing, networking or information resources may result in the loss of computing and/or networking access.  Additionally, misuse can be prosecuted under applicable BFIT or campus policies, procedures, or collective bargaining agreements.  Illegal production of software and other intellectual property protected by U.S. copyright law is subject to civil damages and criminal punishment including fines and imprisonment.

The Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology supports the policy of EDUCOM on Software and Intellectual Rights, which states, “Respect for intellectual labor and creativity is vital to academic discourse and enterprise.  This principle applies to works of authors and publishers in all media.  It encompasses respect for the right to acknowledgement, right to privacy, and the right to determine the form, manner, and terms of publication and distribution. Because electronic information is volatile and easily reproduced, respect for the work and personal expression of others is especially critical in computer environments. Violations of authorial integrity, including plagiarism, invasion of privacy, unauthorized access, and trade secrets and copyright violations may be grounds for sanctions against members of the academic community.”

Other organizations operating computing and network facilities that are reachable via the Institute may have their own policies governing the use of those resources.  When accessing remote resources, users are responsible for obeying both the policies set forth in this documented information and the policies of the other organizations.

No Expectation of Privacy
Students have access to computers and the Internet to assist them in the educational process. Students should have no expectation of privacy in anything they create, store, send or receive using BFIT’s computer equipment. The computer network is the property of BFIT and may be used only for educational purposes.

Waiver of privacy rights
Students expressly waive any right of privacy in anything they create, store, send and receive, when using BFIT computer equipment or Internet access. Students consent to allow BFIT personnel access to and review of all materials created, stored, sent or received by students through any BFIT network or Internet connection.

Monitoring of computer and Internet usage
BFIT has the right to monitor and log any and all aspects of its Computer system including, but not limited to, monitoring Internet sites visited by students, monitoring chats and newsgroups, monitoring file downloads and all communications sent and received by students.

Blocking sites with inappropriate content
BFIT has the right to utilize software that makes it possible to identify and block access to Internet sites containing sexually explicit or other material deemed inappropriate in this setting.

Frivolous Use
Computer resources are not unlimited. Network bandwidth and storage capacity have finite limits, and all students connected to the network have a responsibility to conserve these resources. As such, students must not deliberately perform acts that waste computer resources. These acts include, but are not limited to, sending mass mailing or chain letters, spending excessive amounts of time on the Internet, playing games, engaging in on-line chat groups, uploading or downloading large files, accessing streaming audio and/or video files, or otherwise creating unnecessary loads on network traffic associated with non-education-related uses of the Internet.

Existing Legal Context
All existing laws (federal and state) and Institute regulations and policies apply, including not only those laws and regulations that are specific to computers and networks, but also those that may apply generally to personal conduct and harassment.

Users do not own accounts on BFIT computers, but are granted the privilege of exclusive use.  Under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (Title 18 USC, section 2510 etc. Seq), users are entitled to privacy regarding information contained on these accounts.  This act, however, allows system administrators or other Institute employees to access user files in the normal course of their employment, when necessary to protect the integrity of computer systems or the rights or property of the Institute.  For example, system administrators may examine or make copies of files that are suspected of misuse or that have been corrupted or damaged.  User files may be subject to search by law enforcement, which may be used as evidence in a court of law.  In addition, student files on Institute computer facilities are considered “educational records” under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (Title 20 U.S.C. section 1232[g]).

Please see the Student Code of Conduct, Prohibited Conduct section #22, a-q for a listing of all Information Technology and Computer Use violations.

Minor infractions of this policy, when accidental, such as consuming excessive resources or overloading computer systems, are generally resolved informally by the unit administering the accounts or network.  This may be done through electronic mail or in-person discussion and education.

Repeated minor infractions or misconduct that is more serious may result in referral to the Student Conduct system, in which the student may face temporary or permanent loss of computer access privileges or the modification of those privileges.  More serious violations include, but are not limited to, the unauthorized use of computer resources, attempts to steal passwords or data, unauthorized use or copying of licensed software, repeated harassment, or threatening behavior.  In addition, offenders may be referred to their sponsoring advisor, department, employer, or other appropriate Institute office for further disciplinary action.

Adapted with permission from the University of California, Davis, Computer and Network Use Policy.