Computer Use and Internet Access

Colleges have moved into the information age by providing computer systems, email addresses, and Internet access for students and employees. In making decisions regarding access to the Internet and the use of its computers, the Technical College System of Georgia considers its own stated educational mission, goals, and objectives.

Electronic information research skills are now fundamental to the preparation of citizens and future employees. The Technical College System of Georgia expects faculty to blend thoughtful use of the Internet throughout the curriculum and provide guidance and instruction to students in its use. As much as possible, faculty members should structure access to Internet resources that they have evaluated prior to use. While students may move beyond those resources to others not previewed by college staff, instructors should provide guidelines and lists of resources particularly suited to learning objectives. Students and employees utilizing college-provided Internet access are responsible for good behavior online just as they are in classrooms or other areas of the college.

Using a computer without permission is theft of services and is illegal under state and federal laws. Federal law prohibits the misuse of computer resources. In addition, Georgia laws prohibit the following specific computer crimes (GA Code §16-9-90 et seq.):

  • Computer theft — including theft of computer services, intellectual property such as copyrighted material, and any other property.
  • Computer trespass — unauthorized use of computers to delete or alter data or interfere with others' usage.
  • Computer invasion of privacy — unauthorized access to financial or personal data or the like.
  • Computer forgery — forgery as defined by other laws, but committed on a computer rather than on paper.
  • Computer password disclosure — unauthorized disclosure of a password resulting in damages exceeding $500. In practice, this includes any disclosure that requires a system security audit afterward.
  • Misleading transmittal of names or trademarks — providing false identification or falsely claiming to speak for other people or organizations by using their names, trademarks, logos, or seals.

Maximum penalties for the first four crimes on this list are a $50,000 fine and 15 years of imprisonment plus civil liability. The maximum penalties for computer password disclosure are a $5,000 fine and one year of imprisonment plus civil liability. The purpose of college-provided Internet access is to facilitate communications in support of research and education. To remain eligible as users, student use must be in support of and consistent with the educational objectives of Athens Technical College. Access is a privilege, not a right. Access entails responsibility. Additionally, all Athens Technical College students and employees shall abide by all computer policies as set forth by the Technical College System of Georgia.

Users should not expect files stored on Athens Technical College computers to be private. The college will treat electronic messages and files stored on college-owned computers like other property temporarily assigned for individual use. Administrators may review files and messages to maintain system integrity and to ensure that users are acting responsibly. Moreover, Athens Technical College and Technical College System of Georgia officials shall cooperate with law enforcement officials authorized to search computers and computer systems owned by Athens Technical College or the Technical College System of Georgia.

All information items created, stored, or transmitted on college computers or networks are subject to monitoring for compliance with applicable laws and policies. College policies prohibit the following uses of computers, networks, and Internet access:

  • To access, create, or transmit sexually explicit, obscene, or pornographic material.
  • To create, access, or transmit material that could be considered discriminatory, offensive, threatening, harassing, intimidating, or attempting to libel or otherwise defame any person.
  • To violate any local, state, or federal statute.
  • To vandalize, damage, or disable the property of another individual or organization.
  • To access another individual's password, materials, information, or files without permission.
  • To violate copyright or otherwise use the intellectual property of another individual or organization in violation of the law, including software piracy.
  • To conduct private or personal for-profit activities, including the use of college-owned computers, networks, or Internet access for private purposes such as business transactions, private advertising of products or services, and any other type of activity meant to foster personal gain.
  • To knowingly endanger the security of the college's computers or networks.
  • To willfully interfere with another person's authorized computer usage.
  • To connect any computer to any college network unless it meets technical and security standards set by the college.
  • To create, install, or knowingly distribute a computer virus, "Trojan Horse," or other surreptitiously destructive program on any college computer or network facility, regardless of whether any demonstrable harm results.
  • To modify or reconfigure without proper authorization the software or hardware of any computer or network owned by the college.
  • To conduct unauthorized not-for-profit business activities.
  • To conduct any activity or solicitation for political or religious causes.
  • To perform any activity that could cause the loss of, corruption of, prevention of rightful access to, or unauthorized distribution of data and information owned by Athens Technical College and/or the Technical College System of Georgia.
  • To create, access, or participate in online gambling.

College policy does not consider the occasional access to information or website of the Georgia Lottery Corporation as a form of inappropriate use. Occasional personal use of Internet connectivity and email that do not involve any inappropriate use as described above may occur. Any such use should be brief, infrequent, and shall not interfere with the user's performance, duties, or responsibilities.

Users of college computers and computer systems are subject to the Technical College System of Georgia policy on the development of intellectual property. Any violation of this policy and rules may result in disciplinary action against employees or students. When and where applicable, law enforcement agencies may be involved.

Athens Technical College makes no warranties of any kind, either expressed or implied, for the computers, computer systems, email systems, and Internet access it provides. The college shall not be responsible for any damages users suffer, including but not limited to, the loss of data resulting from delays or interruptions of service.

The college shall not be responsible for the accuracy, nature, or quality of information gathered through college diskettes, hard drives, or servers, nor for the accuracy, nature, or quality of information gathered through college-provided Internet access. Athens Technical College shall not be responsible for personal property used to access its computers or networks or for college-provided Internet access. Athens Technical College shall not be responsible for unauthorized financial obligations resulting from college-provided access to the Internet. The foregoing standards are equally applicable to employees and students of the college.

Penalties

Violations of these policies incur the same types of disciplinary measures as violations of other college policies or state or federal laws, including criminal prosecution.

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