CUNY's computer resources are dedicated to the support of the University's mission
of education, research and public service. In furtherance of this mission, CUNY respects,
upholds and endeavors to safeguard the principles of academic freedom, freedom of
expression and freedom of inquiry.
CUNY recognizes that there is a concern among the University community that because
information created, used, transmitted or stored in electronic form is by its nature
susceptible to disclosure, invasion, loss, and similar risks, electronic communications
and transactions will be particularly vulnerable to infringements of academic freedom.
CUNY's commitment to the principles of academic freedom and freedom of expression
includes electronic information. Therefore, whenever possible, CUNY will resolve doubts
about the need to access CUNY Computer Resources in favor of a User's privacy interest.
However, the use of CUNY Computer Resources, including for electronic transactions
and communications, like the use of other University-provided resources and activities,
is subject to the requirements of legal and ethical behavior. This policy is intended
to support the free exchange of ideas among members of the CUNY community and between
the CUNY community and other communities, while recognizing the responsibilities and
limitations associated with such exchange.
This policy applies to all Users of CUNY Computer Resources, as defined in Article
This policy supersedes the CUNY policy titled CUNY Computer User Responsibilities
and any college policies that are inconsistent with this policy.
1. CUNY Computer Resources refers to all computer and information technology hardware,
software, data, access and other resources owned, operated, or contracted by CUNY.
This includes, but is not limited to, desktop and laptop computers, handheld devices
that allow or are capable of storing and transmitting information (e.g., cell phones,
tablets), mainframes, minicomputers, servers, network facilities, databases, memory,
memory sticks, and associated peripherals and software, and the applications they
support, such as e-mail, cloud computing applications, and access to the internet.
2. E-mail includes point-to-point messages, postings to newsgroups and listservs,
and other electronic messages involving computers and computer networks.
3. Faculty includes full-time, part-time, and adjunct faculty.
4. FOIL is the New York State Freedom of Information Law.
5. Non-Public University Information has the meaning set forth in CUNY's IT Security
Policies and Procedures found at security.cuny.edu, namely: personally identifiable
information (such as an individual's Social Security Number; driver's license number
or non-driver identification card number; account number, credit or debit card number,
in combination with any required security code, access code, or password that would
permit access to an individual's financial account; personal electronic mail address;
Internet identification name or password; and parent's surname prior to marriage);
information in student education records that is protected under the Family Educational
Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) and the related regulations set forth in 34
CFR Part 99; other information relating to the administrative, business, and academic
activities and operations of the University (including employee evaluations, employee
home addresses and telephone numbers, and other employee records that should be treated
confidentially); and any other information available in University files and systems
that by its nature should be treated confidentially .
6. User means a user of CUNY Computer Resources, including all current and former
users, whether affiliated with CUNY or not, and whether accessing those resources
on a CUNY campus or remotely.
IV. RULES FOR USE OF CUNY COMPUTER RESOURCES
a. Users may not access a CUNY Computer Resource without authorization or use it
for purposes beyond the scope of authorization. This includes attempting to circumvent
CUNY Computer Resource system protection facilities by hacking, cracking or similar
activities, accessing or using another person's computer account, and allowing another
person to access or use the User's account.
b. Notwithstanding subsection 1.a. above, a User may authorize a colleague or clerical
assistant to access information under the User's account on the User's behalf while
away from a CUNY campus or when the User is unable to efficiently access the information
on the User's own behalf (including as a result of a disability), but delegated access
will be subject to the rules of Section 10 Security, below.
c. CUNY Computer Resources may not be used to gain unauthorized access to another
computer system within or outside of CUNY. Users are responsible for all actions performed
from their computer account that they permitted or failed to prevent by following
ordinary security precautions. CUNY advisories and resources are available at security.cuny.edu.
a. Use of CUNY Computer Resources is generally limited to activities relating to
the performance by CUNY employees of their duties and responsibilities, by students
in connection with their college courses and activities, and by retired CUNY teaching
faculty, librarians, and other retired employees approved by the college president
or where the employee is a member of the Central Office staff then by the Chancellor
or his or her designee. For example, use of CUNY Computer Resources for private commercial
or not-for-profit business purposes, for private advertising of products or services,
or for any activity meant solely to foster personal gain, is prohibited. Similarly,
use of CUNY Computer Resources for partisan political activity is also prohibited.
b. Except with respect to CUNY employees other than faculty, where a supervisor has
prohibited it in writing, incidental personal use of CUNY Computer Resources is permitted
so long as such use does not interfere with CUNY operations, does not compromise the
functioning of CUNY Computer Resources, does not interfere with the User's employment
or other obligations to CUNY, and is otherwise in compliance with this policy, including
subsection 2.a. above. Users should be aware that personal messages, data and other
information sent or received through a User's CUNY account or otherwise residing in
a CUNY Computer Resource are subject to CUNY review pursuant to Section 13 of this
policy and may also be subject to public disclosure pursuant to FOIL.
3. Compliance with Law.
a. CUNY Computer Resources may not be used for any purpose or in any manner that
violates CUNY rules, regulations or policies, or federal, state or local law. Users
who engage in electronic communications with persons in other states or countries
or on other systems or networks may also be subject to the laws of those other states
and countries, and the rules and policies of those other systems and networks. Users
are responsible for ascertaining, understanding, and complying with the laws, rules,
policies, contracts, and licenses applicable to their particular use.
b. Examples of applicable federal and state laws include those addressing defamation,
invasion of privacy, obscenity and child pornography, and online gambling, as well
as the following:
Computer Fraud and Abuse Act
Copyright Act of 1976
Electronic Communications Privacy Act
Export control regulations issued by the U.S. Departments of Commerce, State and
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
New York State Law with respect to the confidentiality of library records
c. Examples of applicable CUNY rules and policies include those listed below. Other
rules and policies may be found in the Manual of General Policy and on the CUNY Legal
Gramm-Leach-Bliley Information Security Program
IT Security Policies & Procedures
Policy on Maintenance of Public Order (the Henderson Rules )
Sexual Harassment Policy
University Policy on Academic Integrity
4. Licenses and Intellectual Property.
a. Users may use only legally obtained, licensed data or software and must comply
with applicable licenses or other contracts, as well as copyright, trademark and other
intellectual property laws.
b. Much of what appears on the internet and/or is distributed via electronic communication
is protected by copyright law, regardless of whether the copyright is expressly noted.
Users should generally assume that material is copyrighted unless they know otherwise,
and not copy, download or distribute copyrighted material without permission unless
the use does not exceed fair use as defined by the federal Copyright Act of 1976.
Protected material may include, among other things, text, photographs, audio, video,
graphic illustrations, and computer software. Additional information regarding copyright
and file sharing is available on the CUNY Legal Affairs website.
5. False Identity and Harassment. Users may not employ a false identity, mask the identity of an account or computer,
or use CUNY Computer Resources to engage in abuse of others, such as sending harassing,
obscene, threatening, abusive, deceptive, or anonymous messages within or outside
a. Users may not invade the privacy of others by, among other things, viewing, copying,
redistributing, posting such data to the Internet, modifying or destroying data or
programs belonging to or containing personal or confidential information about others,
without explicit permission to do so.
b. CUNY employees must take precautions by following all IT Security Policies and
Procedures to protect the confidentiality of Non-Public University Information encountered
in the performance of their duties or otherwise.
7. Integrity of Computer Resources. Users may not install, use or develop programs intended to infiltrate or damage a
CUNY Computer Resource, or which could reasonably be expected to cause, directly or
indirectly, excessive strain or theft of confidential data on any computing facility.
This includes, but is not limited to, programs known as computer viruses, Trojan horses,
and worms. Users should consult with the IT director at their college before installing
any programs on CUNY Computer Resources that they are not sure are safe or may cause
8. Disruptive Activities.
a. CUNY Computer Resources must not be used in a manner that could reasonably be
expected to cause or does cause, directly or indirectly, unwarranted or unsolicited
interference with the activity of other users, including:
i. chain letters, virus hoaxes or other e-mail transmissions that potentially disrupt
normal e-mail service;
ii. spamming, junk mail or other unsolicited mail that is not related to CUNY business
and is sent without a reasonable expectation that the recipient would welcome receiving
iii. the inclusion on e-mail lists of individuals who have not requested membership
on the lists, other than the inclusion of members of the CUNY community on lists related
to CUNY business; and
iv. downloading of large videos, films or similar media files for personal use.
b. CUNY has the right to require Users to limit or refrain from other specific uses
if, in the opinion of the IT director at the User's college, such use interferes with
efficient operations of the system, subject to appeal to the President or, in the
case of central office staff, to the Chancellor.
9. CUNY Names and Trademarks.
a. CUNY names, trademarks and logos belong to the University and are protected by
law. Users of CUNY Computer Resources may not state or imply that they speak on behalf
of CUNY or use a CUNY name, trademark or logo without authorization to do so. Affiliation
with CUNY does not, by itself, imply authorization to speak on behalf of CUNY.
b. Notwithstanding subsection 9.a. above, CUNY employees and students may indicate
their CUNY affiliation on e-mail, other correspondence, and in academic or professionally-related
research, publications or professional appearances, so long as they do not state or
imply that they are speaking on behalf of the University.
a. CUNY employs various measures to protect the security of its computer resources
and of Users accounts. However, CUNY cannot guarantee such security. Users are responsible
for engaging in safe computing practices such as guarding and not sharing their passwords,
changing passwords regularly, logging out of systems at the end of use, and protecting
Non-Public University Information, as well as for following CUNY's IT Security Policies
b. Users must report incidents of non-compliance with IT Security Policies and Procedures
or other security incidents to the University Chief Information Officer and Chief
Information Security Officer, and the Chief Information Officer at the affected User's
11. Filtering. CUNY reserves the right to install spam, anti-malware, and spyware filters and similar
devices if necessary in the judgment of CUNY's Office of Information Technology or
a college IT director to protect the security and integrity of CUNY Computer Resources.
CUNY will not install filters that restrict access to e-mail, instant messaging, chat
rooms or websites based solely on content, unless such content is illegal, such as
child pornography sites.
12. Confidential Research Information. Principal investigators and others who use CUNY Computer Resources to collect, examine,
analyze, transmit or store research information that is required by law or regulation
to be held confidential or for which a promise of confidentiality has been given are
responsible for taking steps to protect such confidential research information from
unauthorized access or modification. In general, this means storing the information
on a computer or auxiliary hard drive that provides strong access controls (passwords)
and encrypting files, documents, and messages for protection against inadvertent or
unauthorized disclosure while in storage or in transit over data networks. Robust
encryption and passwords must be used to protect Non-Public University Information,
and is strongly recommended for information stored electronically on all computers,
especially portable devices such as notebook computers, Personal Digital Assistants
(PDAs), and portable data storage (e.g., auxiliary hard drives, memory sticks) that
are vulnerable to theft or loss, as well as for information transmitted over public
networks. Software and protocols used should be reviewed and approved by CUNY's Office
of Information Technology. In addition, the steps taken to protect such confidential
research information should be included in submissions to the CUNY Institutional Review
Board reviewing the research protocol.
13. CUNY Access to Computer Resources.
a. Copying. CUNY may copy a User's account and/or hard drive on a CUNY Computer Resource,
without monitoring or inspecting the contents of such account and/or hard drive, at
any time for preservation of data or evidence, without notice to the User.
b. General Monitoring Practices. CUNY does not routinely monitor, inspect, or disclose individual usage of CUNY Computer
Resources without the User's consent. In most instances, if the University needs information
located in a CUNY Computer Resource, it will simply request it from the author or
custodian. However, CUNY IT professionals and staff do regularly monitor general usage
patterns as part of normal system operations and maintenance and might, in connection
with these duties, observe the contents of web sites, e-mail or other electronic communications.
Except as provided in this policy or by law, these individuals are not permitted to
seek out contents or transactional information, or disclose or otherwise use what
they have observed. Nevertheless, because of the inherent vulnerability of computer
technology to unauthorized intrusions, Users have no guarantee of privacy during any
use of CUNY computer resources or in any data in them, whether or not a password or
other entry identification or encryption is used. Users may expect that the privacy
of their electronic communications and of any materials stored in any CUNY Computer
Resource dedicated to their use will not be intruded upon by CUNY except as outlined
in this policy.
c. Monitoring without Notice.
i. Categories. CUNY may specifically monitor or inspect the activity and accounts of individual
users of CUNY computer resources, including individual login sessions, e-mail and
other communications, without notice, in the following circumstances:
A. when the User has voluntarily made them accessible to the public, as by posting
to Usenet or a web page;
B. when it is reasonably necessary to do so to protect the integrity, security, or
functionality of CUNY or other computer resources, as determined by the college chief
information officer or his or her designee, after consultation with CUNY's chief information
officer or his or her designee;
C. when it is reasonably necessary to diagnose and resolve technical problems involving
system hardware, software, or communications, as determined by the college chief information
officer or his or her designee, after consultation with CUNY's chief information officer
or his or her designee;
D. when it is reasonably necessary to determine whether CUNY may be vulnerable to
liability, or when failure to act might result in significant bodily harm, significant
property loss or damage, or loss of evidence, as determined by the college president
or a vice president designated by the president or, in the case of the Central Office
by the Chancellor or his or her designee, after consultation
with the Office of General Counsel and the Chair of the University Faculty Senate
(if a current CUNY faculty member's account or activity is involved) or Vice Chair
if the Chair is unavailable;
E. when there is a reasonable basis to believe that CUNY policy or federal, state
or local law has been or is being violated, as determined by the college president
or a vice president designated by the president or, in the case of the Central Office
by the Chancellor or his or her designee, after consultation with the Office of General
Counsel and the Chair of the University Faculty Senate (if a current CUNY faculty
member's account or activity is involved) or Vice Chair if the Chair is unavailable;
F. when an account appears to be engaged in unusual or unusually excessive activity,
as indicated by the monitoring of general activity and usage patterns, as determined
by the college president or a vice president designated by the president and the college
chief information officer or his or her designee or, in the case of the Central Office
by the Chancellor or his or her designee, after consultation with CUNY's chief information
officer or his or her designee, the Office of General Counsel, and the Chair of the
University Faculty Senate (if a current CUNY faculty member's account or activity
is involved) or Vice Chair if the Chair is unavailable; or
G. as otherwise required by law.
ii. Procedures. In those situations in which the Chair of the University Faculty Senate is to be
consulted prior to monitoring or inspecting an account or activity, the following
procedures shall apply:
A. if the monitoring or inspection of an account or activity requires physical entry
into a faculty member's office, the faculty member shall be advised prior thereto
and shall be permitted to be present to observe, except where specifically forbidden
by law; and
B. the college president or the Chancellor, as the case may be, shall report the
completion of the monitoring or inspection to the Chair and the CUNY employee affected,
who shall also be told the reason for the monitoring or inspection, except where specifically
forbidden by law.
iii. Other Disclosure.
A. CUNY, in its discretion, may disclose the results of any general or individual
monitoring or inspection to appropriate CUNY personnel or agents, or law enforcement
or other agencies. The results may be used in college disciplinary proceedings, discovery
proceedings in legal actions, or otherwise as is necessary to protect the interests
of the University.
B. In addition, users should be aware that CUNY may be required to disclose to the
public under FOIL communications made by means of CUNY Computer Resources whether
in conjunction with University business or as incidental personal use.
C. Any disclosures of activity of accounts of individual Users to persons or entities
outside of CUNY, whether discretionary or required by law, shall be approved by the
General Counsel and shall be conducted in accordance with any applicable law. Except
where specifically forbidden by law, CUNY employees subject to such disclosures shall
be informed promptly after the disclosure of the actions taken and the reasons for
iv. Annual Statement. The Office of General Counsel shall issue an annual statement of the instances of
account monitoring or inspection that fall within categories D through G above. The
statement shall indicate the number of such instances and the cause and result of
each. No personally identifiable data shall be included in this statement.
regarding data collected by CUNY from visitors to the CUNY website at www.cuny.edu.
14. Waiver of Policy
a. A CUNY employee or student may apply to the General Counsel for an exception or
waiver from one or more of the provisions of this policy. Such application may be
for a single use or for periodic or continuous uses, such as in connection with a
course or program. Any application for a waiver should be made prior to using the
CUNY Computer Resource for the purposes described in the application.
b. The written waiver application must state:
i. the policy provision or provisions for which the User is seeking a waiver;
ii. how the User plans to use CUNY Computer Resource to be covered by the waiver
and the reasons why the User believes a waiver should be approved;
iii. if the waiver involves confidential research information, what steps will be
taken to protect such information;
iv. the length of time for which the waiver is being requested; and
v. if a student, how and by whom the student will be supervised.
c. The General Counsel shall consult with the CUNY's chief information officer and
the president of the applicant's college (or, if the applicant is a Central Office
employee, the Chancellor) or their designees, prior to making a determination regarding
d. Users should be aware that CUNY cannot waive federal, state or local law; for
example, the contents of CUNY Computer Resources (including confidential research
information) may be subject to a valid subpoena regardless of the terms of any waiver.
a. Violation of this policy may result in suspension or termination of an individual's
right of access to CUNY Computer Resources, disciplinary action by appropriate CUNY
authorities, referral to law enforcement authorities for criminal prosecution, or
other legal action, including action to recover civil damages and penalties.
b. Violations will normally be handled through the University disciplinary procedures
applicable to the relevant User. For example, alleged violations by students will
normally be investigated, and any penalties or other discipline will normally be imposed,
by the Office of Student Affairs.
c. CUNY has the right to temporarily suspend computer use privileges and to remove
from CUNY computer resources material it believes violates this policy, pending the
outcome of an investigation of misuse or finding of violation. This power may be exercised
only by the president of each college or the Chancellor.
16. Additional Rules. Additional rules, policies, guidelines and/or restrictions may be in effect for specific
computers, systems, or networks, or at specific computer facilities at the discretion
of the directors of those facilities. Any such rules which potentially limit the privacy
or confidentiality of electronic communications or information contained in or delivered
by or over CUNY Computer Resources will be subject to the substantive and procedural
safeguards provided by this policy.
a. CUNY shall not be responsible for any damages, costs or other liabilities of any
nature whatsoever with regard to the use of CUNY Computer Resources. This includes,
but is not limited to, damages caused by unauthorized access to CUNY Computer Resources,
data loss, or other damages resulting from delays, non-deliveries, or service interruptions,
whether or not resulting from circumstances under the CUNY's control.
b. Users receive and use information obtained through CUNY Computer Resources at
their own risk. CUNY makes no warranties (expressed or implied) with respect to the
use of CUNY Computer Resources. CUNY accepts no responsibility for the content of
web pages or graphics that are linked from CUNY web pages, for any advice or information
received by a user through use of CUNY Computer Resources, or for any costs or charges
incurred by a user as a result of seeking or accepting such advice or information.
c. CUNY reserves the right to change this policy and other related policies at any
time. CUNY reserves any rights and remedies that it may have under any applicable
law, rule or regulation. Nothing contained in this policy will in any way act as a
waiver of such rights and remedies.
Approved by the Board of Trustees on January 29, 2007, Cal. No. 4.D., with amendments
approved on June 25, 2012, Cal. No. 5.A. and June 29, 2015, Cal. No. 5.A.
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