IT0110 – Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources

Effective: October 3, 2009
Revision No: 1

Information technology resources are valuable assets provided to enhance the core functions of the University of Tennessee. The use of the university's information technology resources is a privilege extended to authorized users for education, research, service, and administration. This ACCEPTABLE USE OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY RESOURCES POLICY (AUP) governs the use of the university's information technology resources in an atmosphere that encourages free exchange of ideas and an unwavering commitment to academic freedom. The university community is based on principles of honesty, academic integrity, respect for others, and respect for others' privacy and property. The university seeks to:

  • protect the confidentiality and integrity of electronic information and privacy of its users, to the extent required or allowed under federal and state law, including the Tennessee Public Records Act.
  • ensure that the use of electronic communications complies with the provisions of university policy and state and federal law; and
  • allow for the free exchange of ideas and support of academic freedom.

The university cannot protect users from the presence of material they may find offensive. The presence of such material must not be represented or construed as an endorsement or approval by the university.

This policy applies to all students, staff, and others, referred to as users throughout this policy, while accessing, using, or handling the University of Tennessee's information technology resources. In this policy, "users" include but are not limited to subcontractors, visitors, visiting scholars, potential students, research associates, grant and contract support personnel, media representatives, guest speakers, and non-university entities granted access. All "users" are required to be familiar with and comply with this policy.



Individuals Covered
In this policy,In this policy, “users” are those who access, use, or handle the university’s IT resources. They include, but are not limited to: students, faculty, staff, subcontractors, visitors, visiting scholars, potential students, research associates, grant and contract support personnel, media representatives, guest speakers, and non-university entities or individuals who are granted access.

Resources Covered
This policy applies to all university IT resources, whether individually controlled, shared, stand-alone, or networked. It applies to all computers and communication facilities owned, leased, operated, or provided by the university or otherwise connected to university IT resources. These include, but are not limited to: networking devices, personal digital assistants, telephones, wireless devices, personal computers, workstations, mainframes, minicomputers, and any associated peripherals and software, whether used for administration, research, teaching, or other purposes. This policy also applies to all personally owned devices used to store, process, or transmit university information or that are otherwise connected to university IT resources.


At minimum, individual university units (such as campuses or institutes, departments, colleges, and divisions) must follow these principles and rules while connected to university IT resources. Each unit is responsible for security on its systems. A unit may apply more stringent security standards than those detailed here, provided these do not conflict with or lower standards or requirements established by university IT policies.


  1. All users are expected to comply with university IT security policies and follow IT security best practices where possible.

    Users can access university IT policies at and best-practice documents at

  2. Privacy

  3. User privacy
    The university provides electronic resources to users to help the university fulfill its mission. The university routinely monitors electronic data, software, and communications. There should be no expectation of privacy for any information stored, processed, or transmitted on university IT resources.

    As required by state law, the university hereby notifies users that email may be a public record and open to public inspection under the Tennessee Public Records Act, unless the email is covered by an exception to the Act, such as personally identifiable student information, proprietary information, or trade secrets. (See Information Classification Policy: IT 0115, sections two and three.)

  4. University rights

    Users should be aware that any activity on systems and networks may be monitored, logged, and reviewed by university approved personnel or may be discovered in legal proceedings. All documents created, stored, transmitted, or received on university computers and networks may be subject to monitoring by systems administrators.

    The university reserves the right to access, monitor, review, and release the contents and activity of an individual user's account(s), including email, on any account on any university-owned or non-university-owned resource on or off university property connected to university networks. This action may be taken to maintain the network's integrity and the rights of those with authorized access, to safeguard against threatened security of a computer or network system, to protect from other suspected misuse of university resources, or to respond to the legitimate business needs of the university. Prior approval from the Information Security Office (ISO) or another authorized university office (such as the Office of General Counsel, Audit and Consulting Services) or a subpoena or court order must precede this action.

  5. User Responsibilities

  6. Users will:
    1. Comply with university policies and follow university best practices where possible to maintain the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of computer systems and information on all devices under their control.
    2. Make regular backups of information and files as appropriate.
    3. Control and secure physical and network access to IT resources and data.
    4. Properly log out of sessions.
    5. Monitor access to their accounts. If a user suspects unauthorized activity or that their account has been compromised, they must report it and change passwords immediately.
    6. Install, use, and regularly update virus protection software.
    7. Where technically possible, abide by the password protection best practices specified for each IT resource. These can be found at
    8. Use only the passwords and privileges associated with their computer account(s) and use those account(s) only for their authorized purpose.
    9. Respect and honor the rights of other individuals with regard to intellectual property, privacy, freedom from harassment, academic freedom, copyright, and use of IT resources.
    10. Use university provided software in a manner that strictly adheres to all licensing provisions, including installation, use, copying, number of simultaneous users, and other terms of the license.
  7. Users will not:
    1. Provide access codes to any unauthorized user.
    2. Use accounts, access codes, privileges or IT resources for which they are not authorized.
    3. Tamper, modify, or alter any restrictions or protections placed on their accounts, the university’s system, or network facilities.
    4. Physically damage or vandalize IT resources, or use IT resources to damage other university resources or systems.
    5. Commit copyright infringement, including file sharing of video, audio, or data without permission from the copyright owner.
    6. Use IT resources to introduce, create, or propagate computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, or other malicious code.
    7. Obtain extra IT resources or gain access to accounts for which they are not authorized.
    8. Eavesdrop on or intercept other users’ transmissions.
    9. Attempt to degrade the performance or availability of any system or to deprive authorized users access to any university IT resources.
    10. Misrepresent their identity with actions such as IP address "spoofing," email address falsification, or social engineering.
    11. Send email chain letters or mass mailings for purposes other than official university business.
    12. Use university resources to relay mail between non-university email systems.
    13. Engage in activities that violate state or federal law, a University contractual obligation, or another University policy or rule including but not limited to Human Resources policies and Standards of Conduct for students.
    14. Comment or act on behalf of the university over the Internet without authorization.
    15. Connect devices (such as switches, routers, hubs, computer systems, and wireless access points) that are not approved by the central campus or institutional IT organization to the network.
    16. Use without authorization any device or application that consumes a disproportionate amount of network bandwidth.
    17. Respond to electronic requests (email, instant message, text message, etc.) that ask for generally protected information, such as passwords, social security numbers, or credit card numbers.
  8. Copyrights and Licenses

  9. Violation of copyright law or infringement is prohibited by university policies and state and federal law. Generally, only the owner of a copyrighted work may reproduce, create other works based on the copyrighted work, distribute, perform, or publically display a copyrighted work. Any unauthorized use of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject the user to discipline as a violation of one or more provisions of the general standard of conduct in the student handbook or to discipline under the Code of Conduct in the Human Resources Policy and Procedures.

    While the university has deployed and maintains various technologies that actively prohibit copyright infringement activities, the university does not actively monitor its network for copyright infringement, but does investigate all complaints or notices. In the event that the university receives notice a potential copyright violation, the university does investigate all complaints or notices.

    Acts of copyright infringement will be addressed according to the Sanctions section of this policy. In addition, infringement of copyrighted work, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may also involve civil lawsuits by the copyright owner. Possible penalties include actual damages and profits or statutory damages of up to $30,000 for each work infringed (or up to $150,000 for each willful infringement), court costs, attorney fees, and other civil damages. Criminal penalties for willful infringement may include, depending upon the value of the work(s) infringed, fines and imprisonment for up to 5 years as provided in 18 USC 2319.

  10. Software may not be copied, installed, or used on university IT resources except as permitted by the owner of the software and by law. Users will properly license software and strictly adhere to all licensing provisions, including installation, use, copying, number of simultaneous users, and terms of the license.
  11. All copyrighted information, such as text and images, retrieved from IT resources or stored, transmitted, accessed, or maintained with IT resources must be used in compliance with applicable copyright and other laws. Copied material must be properly credited using applicable legal and professional standards.
  12. Each department is responsible and accountable for maintaining records of purchased software licensure. The providing organization is responsible for maintaining records and information related to centrally provided software. These records are subject to internal audit for compliance.
  13. Questions not addressed by this policy about computer software use or specific license agreements should be directed to the appropriate campus or institute Position of Authority for Information Technology (POA) or their designee (see
  14. Personal Use

  15. The university's IT resources are provided for use in conducting authorized university business. Certain users, such as students in university housing and network guests, use university IT resources for personal needs. Nevertheless, all users are prohibited from using these resources for personal gain, illegal activities, or obscene activities.
    1. The prohibition against using the university's IT resources for personal gain does not apply to:

      1. Scholarly activities, including the writing of textbooks or preparation of other teaching materials by faculty members, as recognized in the Statement of Policy on Patents, Copyrights, and Licensing.
      2. Consulting and other activities that relate to a faculty member's professional development or as permitted under university policy. For approved consulting and other activities, see policies covering outside services in the campus and institutional faculty handbooks.
    2. Incidental, de minimis personal use of these resources is permitted by this policy, except when such use:
      1. Is excessive or interferes with the performance of the user's university responsibilities.
      2. Results in additional incremental cost or burden to the university's IT resources.
      3. Violates any state or federal law or is otherwise in violation of this or any other university policy.
      4. Results in additional risk to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability to the university’s IT resources. Personal use of university owned IT resources that access or maintain restricted information (such as medical records, student records, social security numbers, or credit card numbers) is discouraged.
    3. University departments may impose more stringent restrictions on personal use.
  16. University IT resources may not be used for commercial purposes, except as specifically permitted under other written university policies or with the written approval of the Chief Information Officer. Any such commercial use must be properly related to university activities and provide for appropriate reimbursement of taxes and other costs the university may incur by reason of such use.
  17. The ".edu" domain on the Internet has rules restricting or prohibiting commercial use; activities not appropriate for the ".edu" domain but otherwise permissible by the university's IT resources policies must use other domain designations.
  18. Misuse of IT Resources

  19. Users should report all suspected or observed illegal activities to the appropriate university administrative office. Examples include theft, fraud, copyright infringement, illegal electronic file sharing, sound or video recording piracy, hacking, and viewing or distribution of child pornography.
  20. Abuse of networks or computers at other sites through the university’s IT resources will be treated as an abuse of IT resource privileges.
  21. State law prohibits the use of university resources for campaign or political advertising on behalf of any party, committee, agency, or candidate for political office. (Tennessee Code Annotated § 2-19-201 et seq.). This does not prohibit use of university resources to discuss or examine political topics or issues of public interest, so long as it does not advocate for or against a particular party, committee, agency, or candidate.


Violations of university policies, state or federal laws, and other misuse of university resources may result in termination of access, disciplinary review, expulsion, termination of employment, legal action, and other appropriate disciplinary action. Notification will be made to the ISO, the POA for Information Technology at each respective campus or institute, and the appropriate university office (such as the office for student conduct matters, human resources, general counsel, campus, or institute police department) or local and federal law enforcement agencies.

The POA and the ISO are authorized to isolate and disconnect computer systems from the network while responding to a suspected or reported security incident to minimize the risk to the university’s network infrastructure. Termination of access may occur without contacting the administrator, user, or custodian of the violating system.

Access to the university’s IT resources will only be restored when either the POA or the ISO (whichever approved the initial removal of access) receives reasonable assurance that the incident has been resolved.