I'll note that this issue is not specifically a technology issue, as it is
one that exists within our libraries and even in staff and faculty
workplaces. We address it by referring in our policy to state and federal
laws regarding pornography and sexual harassment. It is, of course,
unacceptable to utilize campus computer and network resources to violate
state or federal laws, or existing campus policies.
The issue is complicated by two factors (at least): One, we permit the use
of personally-owned machines on campus (our mandatory student ownership
policies guarantees that we will have personally-owned machines in our
environment), and two, we permit 'incidental use' of campus resources, as
long as that use does not interfere with others.
At 04:40 PM 2/23/01 -0900, David Bantz (UA) wrote:
>The intent of either of these prohibitions [re-capped at end of this
>message] is not that clear to me from the exerpts alone. Without more
>explicit clarification (which may be in other parts of the cited AUPs) it's
>almost certain that alleged violators of these policies would challenge
>their validity or applicability.
>The Redwoods exerpt,read literally, seems to prohibit visiting any web site
>without obtaining authorization or approval. Does the institution really
>expect to enforce that to any extent? If not, what is the remaining force
>of the prohibition? Perhaps web sites which do not themselves implement any
>authorization may be assumed to have "authorized" and/or "approved" any and
>all persons; in that case the prohibition reduces to not circumventing
>Both exerpts categorize game playing, pornography or 'audult sites,' &
>personal or commercial use as "not acceptable" uses (because they are
>declared to be outside the bounds of academic inquiry). Ignoring the
>ill-defined and inherently blurry line between much academic inquiry and
>personal use (i.e., reading widely in areas that may turn out to be relevant
>to your scholarship or research), this prohibition appears to rule out, for
>example, anthropological or sociological studies of computer game players,
>similar studies of pornography or hate speech or the people who visit such
>sites (I know two individuals who trace links between various hate &
>supremicist groups and more "legitimate" groups and have, of course, used a
>good deal of the hate group literature to do so). Perhaps it prohibits
>tracking criminal or predatory behavior (as a colleague has done on behalf
>of several criminal cases against sexual predators), or the use of
>role-playing or simulation games for learning, such as the award winning
>Fugawiland or Systeme D or various historical role-playing games.
>One approach would be to write into the prohibitions execeptions for all the
>legitimate uses of resources which may also be used for frivolous,
>destructive or even criminal purposes. Another approach would be to step
>back and ask "What is the institution's true interest in content-based
>restrictions on access to information resources?" Why should the
>institution prohibit or restrict accesss to information?
>I've heard some answers to those questions which are unpersuasive:
>- "Pornography and/or games use too many resources": restricitions on the
>amouont of shared resources are both more justifiable and easier to
>implement technically; content restrictions are a poor stand-in for
>resource-use restrictions (such amount of storage, bandwidth, paper,
>seat-time, or any other scarce or expensive shared resource).
>- "Personal use - or pornography - or racist speech - or some other use - is
>illegal": While laws vary from one place to another, when I've checked more
>carefully, I've found few absolute prohibitions against any of those
>(actually I've found none, but I haven't looked that hard). Some
>pornography (especially involving minors) is illegal, but a lot is not.
>Similarly, a lot of racist, sexist, jingoist, hate-mongering, and otherwise
>dispicable or moronic forms of expression are not illegal in free countries.
>If your institution wishes to develop stricter standards (higher standards
>of acceptability; lower standards of tolerance) that should of course be the
>responsibility of and outcome of a much broader process involving reflection
>on the basic mission and values of the institution. It surely is not a
>matter to be snuck into an educational institution as part of a technology
>acceptable use policy!
>- "Public resoures (for state-supported institutions) - or scarce
>educational resoureces generally - used for such purposes diminish the
>proper educational and research functions for which resources are intended":
>Wasteful, frivolous, and stupid activities consume resources better used on
>productive, serious, and wise activities. Encourging the latter at the
>expense of the former is responsible. But is globally categorizing
>activities into these two buckets and strictly prohibiting the bad ones an
>effective or reasonable tactic? Nearly all of us are tempted at times, but
>most higher ed institutions are far too diverse to make this work. I've had
>faculty demand that students in labs be prohibited from using e-mail since
>that was - in their view - a frivolous activity diverting students from the
>assignments made by that instructor; another respected faculty member
>submitted a list of usenet newsgroups that needed to be blocked as a waste
>of resources (no matter that it would take more technical resources to
>define and implement selective blocking than would be saved); I cannot count
>how many times I've been advised that faculty in [fill in the blank]
>disciplines do not require nearly as much support for information technology
>as the faculty in [fill in another blank]. All of these are seriously
>intended resource allocation judgments. They are in conflict with one
>another because individual judgments of relative worth conflict - sometimes
>profoundly. We should welcome serious public debate and informative
>descriptions or analyses of different use of IT, but adopting one or another
>set of judgments to restrict others' use by fiat seems a recipe for
>unrelenting conflict. In many (though not all) cases, it is also
>So do I advocate a free-for-all? Not quite.
>- Responsibile use of shared resources, however, does not reduce simply to a
>list of prohibited and permitted activities. The relevant category
>distinctions governing responsible use of shared IT resources are not
>"games" versus "learning" or "lewd" versus "decent" or "scholarship" versus
>"amusement." Relevant categories include "fair share" versus
>"disproportionate share", "collaboration" versus "interruption", "respecting
>privacy" versus "undermining privacy", or "taking precautions" versus
>"reckless". This is, of course, not a definitive list.
>- Educate users concerning their responsibilities and about inherent hazards
>of IT. View lab computers, printers, and bandwidth as "free" because you're
>not charged? Here's the budget, how it is consumed, and examples of
>reasonable use. Concerned about confidentiality of your files? Perhaps you
>should understand and use encryption. Want to vent to others? Post to the
>the proper venue (newsgroup or mailing list) or face the consequences.
>Think you'd like to send your dissertation to 400 of your closest friends?
>Don't expect to use the lab's free printing service. Think copyright is
>irrelevant to what's on your computer? Think again...
>- Promulgate and seriously enforce only restrictions and prohibitions you
>will honestly enforce. (In line with point above, provide the rationale to
>encourage voluntary compliance.)
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Thomson, Jim" <[log in to unmask]>
>| Internet and its resources are provided to support educational activities,
>| including research and academic inquiry. Use for other purposes is not
>| acceptable. Examples of these purposes include game playing, visiting
>| sites," personal, commercial, or illegal usage. Unauthorized or not
>| access to any computer system on the Internet is expressly forbidden....
>| While it has not been tested yet it also was not challenged by our
>| Jim Thomson College of the Redwoods
>----- Original Message -----
>| From: Kent Maharaj [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
>| ...we have a clause
>| that states baldly that our computing resources are not to be used
>| for pornography, hate literature, and racist material. We do not
>| attempt to define these, and there is not explicit objection to that
>| as it stands. The question has been raised, however, as to how, for
>| instance, a faculty member is doing research in one of these
>| subjects, can be excepted from the policy.
>| Have others found a way of addressing this apparent conflict, without
>| weakening the intent of prohibition?...
Gordon D. Wishon
Associate Vice President and Associate Vice Provost
for Information Technology
Georgia Institute of Technology
258 4th Street
Atlanta, GA 30332-0700
email: [log in to unmask]