22. Rules for Responsible Computing
22.1 Use of university computing resources and facilities is a privilege and requires that individual users act in compliance with university rules. The university provides users with an account that permits use of the computing resources and facilities within guidelines established by Texas A&M University. Users must respect the integrity of computing resources and facilities, respect the rights of other users and comply with all relevant laws (local, state, federal and international), university rules and contractual agreements. The university reserves the right to limit, restrict or deny computing privileges and access to its information resources for those who violate university rules and/or laws.
22.2 As an institution of higher learning, Texas A&M University encourages, supports, and protects freedom of expression and an open environment to pursue scholarly inquiry and to share information. Access to networked computer information in general and to the Internet, in particular, supports the academic community by providing a link to electronic information in a variety of formats and covering all academic disciplines. As with any resource, it is possible to misuse computing resources and facilities and abuse access to the Internet. The following statements address, in general terms, Texas A&M University’s philosophy about computing use.
22.2.1 Freedom of Expression: Censorship is not compatible with the goals of Texas A&M University. The university should not limit access to any information due to its content when it meets the standard of legality.
22.2.2 Privacy: The general right to privacy is extended to the electronic environment to the extent possible. Privacy is mitigated by the Texas Public Information Act, administrative review, computer system administration and audits. Contents of electronic files will be examined or disclosed only when authorized by their owners, approved by an appropriate university official or required by law.
22.2.3 Intellectual Property: All members of the university community should be aware that property laws apply to the electronic environment. Users should assume that works communicated through a network are subject to copyright unless specifically stated otherwise. Unless permission of the author is obtained, utilization of any electronically transmitted information must comply with the “fair use” principle.
22.2.4 Criminal and Illegal Acts: Computing resources of the university, which include the hardware, software and network environment, shall not be used for illegal activities. Any such use of these resources will be dealt with by the appropriate university authorities and/or other legal and law enforcement agencies. Criminal and illegal use may involve unauthorized access, intentional corruption or misuse of computing resources, theft, obscenity, child pornography and racial, ethnic, religious or sexual harassment.
22.2.5 Authorized Use: Computing resources are provided by the university to accomplish tasks related to the university’s mission. Some computers may be dedicated to specific research or teaching missions that limit their use. Computing resources may not be used for unauthorized commercial activities or any illegal activities. Incidental personal use of computing resources by employees is governed by The Texas A&M University System Ethics Policy. (see Appendix V)