Skip to main content

Policy 5.0: Abuse of Computers and Network Systems

This article applies to: Policy

The 1990 Policy Regarding Abuse of Computers and Network Systems promulgates four important principles of information technology: privacy of communications; integrity of data and systems; intellectual property rights, and responsible use of network resources.

Excerpts from that policy are offered below, with examples to illustrate the principles.

Cornell University Policy Regarding Abuse of Computers and Network Systems*

The use of computers or network systems** in no way exempts any member of the University community from the normal requirements of ethical or legal behavior in the Cornell community. In particular, data, software, and computer capacity have value and must be treated accordingly. Use of a computer and network system that is shared by many users imposes certain additional obligations.

Legitimate use of a computer or network system does not extend to whatever an individual is capable of doing with it. Although some rules are built into the system itself, these restrictions cannot limit completely what an individual can do or can see. In any event, each member of the community is responsible for his/her actions whether or not rules are built in, and whether or not they can be circumvented.

Members of the University community are expected to follow certain principles of behavior in making use of computers and network systems, in particular, to respect, and to observe policies and procedures governing:

  • The privacy of or other restrictions placed upon data or information stored in or transmitted across computers and network systems, even when that data or information is not securely protected.
  • An owner's interest in proprietary software or other assets pertaining to computers or network systems, even when such software or assets are not securely protected.
  • The finite capacity of computers or network systems by limiting use of computers and network systems so as not to interfere unreasonably with the activity of other users.

Members of the University community also are expected to follow all other policies, rules, or procedures established to manage computers or network systems, including those established to control access to, or the use of, computer data, files, or other information.

Those who cannot accept these standards of behavior will be denied use of Cornell computers or network systems. Violators may also be subject to penalties under University regulations and under state and federal laws.

* Adapted from a statement of principles incorporated into the Code of Academic Integrity
** For supporting voice or data communications.
*** This prohibition on the sharing of passwords does not create a right of privacy for password-protected electronic material. The university reserves the right to access material such as employee e-mail when needed for business reasons. 

About this Article

Last updated: 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017 - 9:06pm

Was this page helpful?

Your feedback helps improve the site.