I:03:04 Electronic Mail Acceptable Use Policy

I. POLICY PURPOSE

The purpose of this "Electronic Mail Acceptable Use Policy" is to establish guidelines and minimum requirements governing the acceptable use of University-provided electronic mail (e-mail) services. By establishing and maintaining compliance with this policy, risks and costs can be mitigated while the valuable potential of this communication tool is realized. The objectives of this policy are to assure that:

A. The use of University-provided e-mail services is related to, or for the benefit of, Middle Tennessee State University and the State of Tennessee;

B. Users understand that e-mail messages and documents may be subject to the same laws, regulations, policies, and other requirements as information communicated in other written forms and formats;

C. Disruptions to University activities from inappropriate use of University provided e-mail services are avoided; and

D. Users are provided guidelines describing their personal responsibilities regarding confidentiality, privacy, and acceptable use of University provided e-mail services as defined by this policy.

II. POLICY SCOPE

This policy applies to all University employees, students, retirees, and holders of specially-granted accounts (hereinafter referred to as "users") whose access to or use of e-mail services is funded by the University and the State of Tennessee or is available through equipment or software services owned or leased by the University.

III. PRINCIPLES OF ACCEPTABLE USE

As with any state-provided resource, the use of e-mail services should be dedicated to legitimate University activities and is governed by rules of conduct similar to those applicable to the use of other information technology resources. The use of e-mail services is a privilege that imposes certain responsibilities and obligations on State users and is subject to State policies and local, state, and federal laws. Acceptable use must be legal, ethical, reflect honesty, and show restraint in the consumption of shared resources. It demonstrates respect for intellectual property, ownership of information, system security mechanisms, and the individual's rights to privacy and freedom from intimidation, harassment, and unwarranted annoyance. All e-mail users should:

A. Comply with state and agency policies, procedures, and standards;

B. Be courteous and follow accepted standards of etiquette;

C. Protect others' privacy and confidentiality;

D. Be responsible for the use of their e-mail accounts; and

E. Use information technology resources efficiently and productively.

IV. ACCEPTABLE ACTIVITIES

Acceptable e-mail activities are those that conform to the purpose, goals, and mission of the University and to each user's job duties and/or responsibilities. The following list, although not inclusive, provides some examples of acceptable uses:

A. Communications, including information exchange, for professional development or to maintain job knowledge or skills;

B. Use in applying for or administering grants or contracts for University research programs or work-related applications;

C. Communications with other University agencies and research partners of University agencies providing document delivery or transferring working documents/drafts for comments;

D. Announcements of University regulations, procedures, policies, services, or activities;

E. Use involving research and information gathering in support of advisory, standards, analysis, and professional development activities related to the user's University duties; and

F. Communication and information exchange relating directly to the mission, charter, and work tasks of the University including e-mail in direct support of work-related functions or collaborative projects.

NOTE: Users may be subject to limitations on their use of e-mail as determined by the appropriate supervising authority. Users are advised to remove themselves from e-mail list not dealing with work-related topics.

The use of any University resources for e-mail must be related to University business, including academic pursuits. Incidental and occasional personal use of e-mail may occur when such use does not generate costs to the University. Any such incidental and occasional use of University e-mail resources for personal purposes is subject to the provisions of this policy.

V. UNACCEPTABLE ACTIVITIES

Unacceptable use can be defined generally as activities that do not conform to the purpose, goals, and mission of the University and to each user's job duties and responsibilities. Any e-mail usage in which acceptable use is questionable should be avoided. In other words, when in doubt, seek policy clarification prior to pursuing the activity. The following list, although not all-inclusive, provides some examples of unacceptable uses:

A. Private or personal for-profit activities. This includes use of e-mail services for private purposes such as marketing or business transactions, private advertising of products or services, and any activity meant to foster personal gain;

B. Personal use that creates a direct cost to the University;

C. Unauthorized not-for-profit business activities. This includes the conducting of any non-University-related fund raising or public relations activities such as solicitation for religious and political causes;

D. Transmission of incendiary statements which might incite violence or describe or promote the use of weapons or devices associated with terrorist activities;

E. Use for, or in support of, unlawful/prohibited activities as defined by federal, state, and local laws or regulations.

VI. PRIVACY CONSIDERATIONS

Although employees of the University do not routinely monitor the contents of electronic files, including those containing incoming or outgoing electronic mail, such files may be considered public records under the public records law and therefore subject to public inspection. Additionally, the University reserves the right to view or scan any file or software stored on University systems or transmitted over University networks, and may do so periodically to verify that software and hardware are working correctly, to look for particular kinds of data or software (such as computer viruses), or to audit the use of University resources. Violations of policy that come to the University's attention during these and other activities will be acted upon.

The University will make reasonable efforts to maintain the integrity and effective operation of its e-mail systems, but users are advised that those systems should in no way be regarded as a secure medium for the communication of sensitive or confidential information. Because of the nature and technology of electronic communication, the University can assure neither the privacy of an individual user's use of the University e-mail resources nor the confidentiality of particular messages that may be created, transmitted, received, or stored thereby.

VII. SIGNATURE BLOCKS

Signature blocks may include an employee's name, title and contact information. With the exception of official University-related taglines, graphics or insignia, inclusion of quotes of any kind are not acceptable and may not be used.

VIII. SANCTIONS

Violations of this Policy may result in the immediate suspension of the User's account, followed by timely review by the appropriate person or persons.

Violations of this Policy may subject users to the regular disciplinary processes and procedures of the University for students, staff, administrators, and faculty and may result in loss of their computing privileges.

Illegal acts involving University computing resources may also subject violators to prosecution by local, state, and/or federal authorities. Suspected law violations may be referred to the appropriate law enforcement agencies.

If a user is found to have violated this Policy, the user's computing privileges at MTSU may be permanently and totally removed. There will be no refund of any technology access fees.

Student users in violation of this Policy may be recommended for suspension or dismissal from MTSU. Employees in violation of this Policy may be recommended for termination from MTSU employment.

For additional information and guidelines go to the MTSU Electronic Mail Procedures and Guidelines.

Revisions: June 18, 1999; February 8, 2000; March 16, 2004; November 18, 2011.