Binghamton University Computer and Network Policy

I. Introduction

Access to information technology is essential to the state university mission of providing the students, faculty and staff of the State University of New York with educational and research services of the highest quality. The pursuit and achievement of the SUNY mission of education, research, and public service require that the privilege of the use of computing systems and software, internal and external data networks, as well as access to the World Wide Web, be made available to all those of the Binghamton University community. The preservation of that privilege by the full community requires that each faculty member, staff member, student, and other authorized user comply with institutional and external standards for appropriate use.

To assist and ensure such compliance, Binghamton University establishes the following policy and the Binghamton University World Wide Web Policy which supplements all applicable SUNY policies, including sexual harassment, patent and copyright, and student and employee disciplinary policies, as well as applicable federal and state laws.

II. General Principles

1. Authorized use of Binghamton University-owned or operated computing and network resources shall be consistent with the education, research and public service mission of the State University of New York and consistent with this policy.

2. Authorized users of Binghamton’s computing and network resources are defined as those individuals provided a username and password, for their own use only, through legitimate Binghamton University processes for assignment of such identification from Information Technology Services. An authorized use of Binghamton’s computing and network resources is initiated by entering that individual’s username and password. Using another individual’s username and password is an unauthorized use. The only exception to this authorized use definition is access on designated computers provided in the University Library where use of a username and password will not be required.

3. This policy applies to all Binghamton University’s computing and network resources, and external computing and networking resources accessed via Binghamton’s computing and networking resources.

4. The University reserves the right to limit access to its networks when applicable campus or university policies or codes, contractual obligations, or state or federal laws are violated.

5. The University reserves the right to remove or limit access to material posted on university-owned computers when applicable campus or university policies or codes, contractual obligations, or state or federal laws are violated.

6. Non-University-owned computers which house material which violates the University’s policies are subject to network disconnection without notice.

7. Although the University does not generally monitor or restrict the content of material transported across networks, it reserves the right to access and review all aspects of its computing systems and networks, including individual login sessions and account files, to investigate performance or system problems, search for viruses and other harmful programs, or upon reasonable cause to determine if a user is violating this policy or state or federal laws.

8. This policy may be supplemented with additional guidelines by campus units that operate their own computers or networks, provided such guidelines are consistent with this policy.

III. Acceptable Use

Privacy: No user should access, view, copy, alter or destroy another’s personal electronic files without permission (unless authorized or required to do so by law or regulation). If another user has failed to close out their session a new user must close that session and enter their own username and password to use that computer.

Copyright: Written permission from the copyright holder is required to duplicate any copyrighted material, except where consistent with Fair Use. This includes but is not limited to duplication of music, audiotapes, videotapes, photographs, illustrations, computer software, data and all other information for educational use or any other purpose. Most software and databases that reside on the University’s computing network are owned by the University or third parties, and are protected by copyright and other laws, together with licenses and other contractual agreements. Users are required to respect and abide by the terms and conditions of software use and redistribution licenses. Such restrictions may include prohibitions against copying programs or data for use on the University’s network or for distribution outside the University, against the resale of data or programs, or against the use of software for non-educational purposes, or for financial gain, and against public disclosure of information about programs (e.g., source code) without the owner’s authorization.

Harassment, Libel and Slander: No user may use the University’s computers or networks to libel, slander or harass any other person.

Sharing of access: Computer accounts, passwords, and other types of authorization are assigned to individual users and not shared with others. The assigned user is responsible for any use of the account. Sharing of a computer account constitutes an inappropriate use and may lead to termination of that account

Permitting unauthorized access: Users may not run or otherwise configure software or hardware to intentionally allow access by unauthorized users. Failure to configure hardware or software in a way that reasonably prevents access by unauthorized users is a violation of acceptable use.

Termination of access: When a user ceases to be a member of the campus community or is assigned a new position and/or responsibilities within the State University system, the user’s access authorization must be reviewed. Users must not use facilities, accounts, access codes, privileges or information for which they are not authorized in their new circumstances.

Residence Hall Access: Residence hall access to the campus network is granted to individuals. Each individual is responsible for assuring that his/her personal residence hall room access point is not misused.

Circumventing Security: Users are prohibited from attempting to circumvent or subvert any system’s security measures. Users are prohibited from using any computer program or device to intercept or decode passwords or similar access control information.

Breaching Security: Activities which degrade the performance of a computer system or network, use a system or network for which the user is not authorized, or deprive authorized users of resources or access to computers or networks is prohibited.

Game Playing: Limited recreational game playing by students, which is not part of authorized and assigned research or instructional activity, is acceptable, but computing and network services are not to be used for extensive or competitive recreational game playing disruptive to others. Recreational game players occupying a seat in a public computing facility must give up the use of the device when others who need to use the facility for academic or research purposes are waiting.

Chain Letters: The propagation of chain letters is an unacceptable practice and is prohibited.

Unauthorized Monitoring: A user may not monitor the electronic communications of others.

Flooding: Generating excessive network traffic, including spamming and denial-of-service, is prohibited.

Private Commercial Purposes: The computing resources of Binghamton University shall not be used for private commercial purposes or for financial gain.

Political Advertising or Campaigning: The use of Binghamton University’s computers and networks shall be in accordance with University policy on use of University facilities for political purposes (Binghamton University's Management Procedures Policy Number 407).

Modifying software or software installation: A user may not modify the software configuration on any computer provided for general access.

IV. Limitations on Users’ Expectations (User Cautions!)

1. The issuance of a password or other means of access is intended to assure appropriate confidentiality of the University’s files and resources and does not guarantee privacy for use of university equipment or facilities.

2. The University provides reasonable security against intrusion and damage to files stored on the central facilities, and provides for some archiving of files based upon the operational needs of the University. However, the University is not responsible for the loss of users’ files or data. Users should take their own steps to backup and protect important information.

3. Users should be aware that the University’s computer systems and networks might be vulnerable to unauthorized access or tampering. In addition, computer files, including e-mail, may be considered "records" which may be accessible to the public under the provisions of the New York State Freedom of Information Law.

4. Email messages are not personal and private. While administrators will not routinely monitor individual email and will take reasonable precautions to protect the privacy of Email, program managers and technical staff may access a student or employee’s Email:

  • For a legitimate business purpose (e.g. the need to access information when an employee is absent),
  • To diagnose and resolve technical problems involving the system, and/or
  • To investigate possible misuse of Email when a reasonable suspicion of abuse exists or in conjunction with an approved investigation.

5. Email messages sent/received in conjunction with University business may:

  • Be considered state records under applicable state regulations;
  • Be releasable to the public under the Freedom of Information Law;
  • Require special measures to comply with the Personal Privacy Protection Law.

6. All Email messages including personal communications may be subject to discovery proceedings in legal actions.

V. Sanctions

Violators of this policy may be subject to immediate suspension of services by Information Technology Services and to the existing student or employee disciplinary procedures of Binghamton University. Sanctions may include the loss of network access and computing privileges. Illegal acts involving Binghamton University’s computing resources may also subject users to subpoena and prosecution by commercial enterprises, local, state and/or federal authorities.