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UMass Amherst IT Policy: Acceptable Use of Computing & Information Technology Resources

The Acceptable Use Policy is currently under review. Please see the new draft policy, interpretation guidelines draft, and rights and responsibilities for the acceptable use of information technology draft document for more details.


It is the policy of the University of Massachusetts Amherst to maintain access for its community to local, national, and international sources of information and to provide an atmosphere that encourages the free exchange of ideas and sharing of information. Access to this environment and the University's information technology resources is a privilege and must be treated with the highest standard of ethics.

The University expects all members of the community to use computing, data, and information technology resources in a responsible manner, respecting the public trust through which these resources have been provided, the rights and privacy of others, the integrity of facilities and controls, state and Federal laws, and University policies and standards.

This policy outlines the standards for acceptable use of University computing, data, and information technology resources, which include, but are not limited to, equipment, software, networks, data, and telephones whether owned, leased, transmitted across, or otherwise provided by the Office of Information Technologies at UMass Amherst.

This policy applies to all users of IT computing, data, and information technology resources including faculty, staff, students, guests, external organizations and individuals accessing network services, such as the Internet, via University resources.

Preserving access to information resources is a community effort that requires each member to act responsibly and guard against abuses. Therefore, both the community as a whole and each individual user have an obligation to abide by the following standards of acceptable and ethical use:

  • Use only those computing and information technology resources for which you have authorization
  • Protect the access to and integrity of computing, data, and information technology resources
  • Ensure that sensitive data are created, collected, maintained, used, disseminated, and destroyed in a manner that prevents unauthorized use, corruption, disclosure, loss or theft.
  • Abide by applicable laws and university policies and respect the copyrights and intellectual property rights of others, including the legal use of copyrighted software
  • Use computing, data, and information technology resources only for their intended purpose
  • Respect the privacy and personal rights of others

Failure to comply with the appropriate use of these resources threatens the atmosphere for the sharing of information, the free exchange of ideas, and the secure environment for creating and maintaining information property, and subjects one to discipline. Any member of our community found using information resources for unethical and/or unacceptable practices has violated this policy and is subject to disciplinary proceedings including suspension of system privileges, expulsion from school, termination of employment and/or legal action as may be appropriate.

IT reserves the right to limit or restrict the use of its computing and information technology resources based on institutional priorities and financial considerations, as well as when it is presented with evidence of a violation of University policies, contractual agreements, or state and federal laws.

Although all members of the community have an expectation of privacy, if a user is suspected of violating this policy, his or her right to privacy may be superseded by the University's requirement to protect the integrity of information technology resources, the rights of all users and the property of the University. The University, thus, reserves the right to examine material stored on or transmitted through its resources if there is cause to believe that the standards for acceptable and ethical use are being violated by a member of the University community or a trespasser onto its systems or networks.

Specific guidelines for interpretation and administration of this policy are given in the Guidelines for Interpretation and Administration of the Acceptable Use Policy. These guidelines contain more specific examples of offenses, and procedures for dealing with incidents. For IT systems, you should  see the Specific Interpretations section of the Acceptable Use Policy Guidelines, as well as any specific rules that may be posted in labs or pointed to in the login message on systems that you use.


The University considers any violation of acceptable use principles or guidelines to be a serious offense and reserves the right to copy and examine any files or information resident on University systems allegedly related to unacceptable use and to protect its network from systems and events that threaten or degrade operations. Violators are subject to disciplinary action as prescribed in the Code of Student Conduct, Undergraduate Rights and Responsibilities, and employee handbooks. Offenders also may be prosecuted under laws including (but not limited to) the Communications Act of 1934 (amended), the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986, The Computer Virus Eradication Act of 1989, Interstate Transportation of Stolen Property, Massachusetts General Laws, No Electronic Theft Act of 1997, Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1999, and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.

Information Disclaimer

Individuals using computer systems owned by the University do so subject to applicable laws and University policies. The University disclaims any responsibility and/or warranties for information and materials residing on non-University systems or available over publicly accessible networks. Such materials do not necessarily reflect the attitudes, opinions, or values of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the University, its faculty, staff, or students.

Last Updated: Jun. 25, 2015