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Computer Use Guidelines – the Route to Good IT Citizenship


Use Your Common Sense - If what you are about to do via the University’s IT resources does not conform with your general values of “rightness” or legality or probity - don’t do it. It is probably going to get you into trouble.

You are Mature and Responsible People - if it feels like you are about to do something immature, insensitive and wrong – don’t do it.

IT Resources and Their Key Purpose - The University provides you all with the very best ICT environment it can possibly deliver - don’t squander this resource on pranks, games, nefarious and dubious activities or the condemnation of others. Use it instead for research, study and business process support and to prepare and present your case for proper resolution of any issue through the many appropriate channels afforded to you.

What is Offensive - Remember that an element of the assessment of what constitutes being “offensive” resides with the person/people receiving, witnessing or who are the subject of the content - your own assessment may not be the only relevant evaluation.

Think more than once before you elect to publish a criticism, embarrassment or humiliation of another student or member of staff, group or department - or to circulate any such material via electronic means. Ask yourselves first whether you would wish to be the target of similar invective and if not don’t do it to someone else.

Criticism of others via an external web service the content of which they may be ignorant of is an unsatisfactory way to deal with the issues you may have in regard to that person - so find a more constructive, engaging and adult way to resolve the problem.

Be an Informed Citizen - Do not hide behind the cover of ignorance or lack of thought and consideration for others – as responsible adults you are expected to inform your action with appropriate prior knowledge and recognition of the laws, the regulations and frameworks for decent behaviour.

Using/Exploiting Web 2.0 Services

Security of Service Provider – will the company still be around in 6 months time, could it have ceased trading or changed ownership?

Confidentiality – What is the service providers policy about disclosing your data – do these conditions satisfy your needs? Whose intellectual property will your contributed content and data be? Search engines can and probably will find out, index and perhaps cache all openly accessible information that you upload. You may have less control over what is indexed and cached than if the service had been hosted locally.

Ownership of Data – some Web 2.0 services require you to agree that your contributions will be subject to the GNU General Public License or to a Creative Commons license. In other cases users may be required to waive certain of their moral rights – for example the right to be identified as the author of their work.

Security of Data – What are the service providers arrangements for protecting your data from accidental or deliberate access, amendment or deletion AND for backing up your data? What guarantees do they offer and are they adequate for your needs? Can you control what people can do with and to your information at a sufficiently detailed level?

Performance – How ready is the service provider to address service performance problems? Are there performance issues that associate with the remoteness of the service/server – e.g. network bandwidth/congestion issues?

Reliability – Is the service available as required – does it have scheduled or unscheduled downtime? How dependent are you on access to the service during Semester time for example? If a U.S based service is performing maintenance operations at 03:00 PST, such activity may affect your service at 11:00 U.K. time. Note that the risk of a service being unavailable increases the further away it is – much more network infrastructure needs to be working to get you to a California based service that to a local one.

Lock-in – Can your data be retrieved from the system in a form that would allow it to be transferred and used elsewhere or are you locked in to the service? Suitable standard formats across different service providers may not always exist and support for exporting your data to allow it to be moved to a competitors service may be a low priority for many web 2.0 companies.

Longevity – What is the service providers policy regarding “idle” data and can you be assured that it will not be deemed abandoned and thus deleted? What arrangements does the service provider offer for long term survival of data in the face of technological obsolescence, software and data standard changes?

Takedown Policy – You might need to take down or delete information that has been posted to a web 2.0 service for a variety of reasons (e.g. defamation, breach of copyright or breach of Data Protection Act. What terms and facilities are offered by the service provider that will enable you to do this quickly if necessary?