DATE: September 20, 1999
FROM: Rodney A. Erickson, Vice President and Provost
TO: Penn State Faculty, Staff, and Students
SUBJECT: Use of E-mail Accounts
As a user of the Penn State computer and information network, you are a part of the global Internet. Along with its unparalleled opportunities for research and the free exchange of ideas between friends and colleagues worldwide, membership in the electronic community brings with it certain responsibilities. Penn State users are expected to behave professionally and courteously in electronic discourse at all times, much as they would if the same correspondence were conducted via postal mail or telephone.
University Policy for the appropriate use of electronic resources is included in Policy AD20, Computer and Network Security (http://guru.psu.edu/policies/AD20.html). Links to other information technology policy issues can be found at http://www.psu.edu/computing/policies/. However, I would also like to take this opportunity to remind users in more general terms of their responsibilities as members of the electronic community.
1. Your Access Account is your electronic identity at Penn State. You are directly accountable for actions performed under its auspices, thus it is critically important for you to protect your account and password, lest someone else use it under your name.
2. Accounts are reserved for your individual use only. They are not to be shared with friends or family members. To do so is a violation of University Policy (AD-20) and the terms you agreed to when you accepted your Access Account. In many cases, the data and other resources that can be accessed using your University account are restricted contractually to Penn State faculty, staff, and students. Extending access beyond those limits could jeopardize the University's own standing with various service and content providers. In addition, use of the University modem pool by your spouse or children in the evening hours has the potential to create bottlenecks for those authorized to use the service, resulting in reduced service levels and increased investment requirements.
3. Your University account should not be used to:
4. Think before you send. Because of the almost instantaneous nature of electronic mail, it is often easy to speak in anger or to use hurtful language that would never be considered appropriate in a more traditional medium. Users should exercise restraint before hitting "send" and should remember that electronic mail tends to take on a life of its own. It can be forwarded to others, modified, posted on electronic bulletin boards or stored on intermediate systems. The general rule of thumb is if you wouldn't say these words directly to the person, or would not want to see them transmitted to a wider audience, or recorded in a printed medium, do not send them electronically.
5. Plain text electronic mail is not suitable for extremely confidential or private material. It is much like a postcard in terms of the level of security available. If the content of your correspondence would normally require a sealed envelope in the physical world, unencrypted electronic mail is probably not appropriate for its transmission.
6. Practice "safe computing." Viruses and other malicious code may be transmitted by electronic mail attachments even if you know the originator of the correspondence. It is good practice not to open email attachments unless you have and are using current anti-virus software that will detect the latest instances of hostile code.
If you have questions or concerns with regard to appropriate conduct on the University's computer networks, please contact the Office of Computer and Network Security at (814) 863-9533 or email@example.com. Hopefully, this short review of these few guidelines will make your computing experiences at Penn State more enjoyable and productive.