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Use of Internet and Electronic Communication Systems

Office of Origin: Information Technologies
Date Adopted: 05-25-10
Date Reviewed:
Last Date Modified & Approved:

Policy Statement:

Lake Michigan College has established this policy (“policy”) to regulate access and disclosure of messages created, sent, or received by ALL College employees using the College’s electronic communications (notably e-mail, voice-mail, and fax) systems (“systems”) and Internet systems (“Internet”). The College intends to honor the policies set forth below, but reserves the right to change them at any time as may be required by the circumstances. This Policy applies to all users of the College’s electronic communications and Internet systems.

Lake Michigan College is committed to providing an environment that encourages the use of computers and electronic information as essential tools to support the College’s business. It is the responsibility of each employee to ensure that such technology is used for proper business purposes and in a manner that does not compromise the confidentiality of proprietary or other sensitive information of the College, its employees and/or students, or violates any other College policy. This policy supplements and should be read in conjunction with all other College policies.

Lake Michigan College maintains an electronic mail (e-mail) system. This system is provided by the College to assist in the conduct of College business. The e-mail system hardware is the College’s property. The e-mail system software is licensed by the College. The use of electronic communications is reserved solely for conducting business at the College.

The College’s network, including its connection to the Internet, is to be used primarily for business-related purposes. Incidental and occasional personal use of the Internet is permitted within the College, subject to the other policies contained herein. Employees may not sign onto or participate in social networking sites such as Facebook during work time unless it is to conduct College business and may never use a College e-mail address on such sites during nonwork time.

Personal use is defined as use that is not job-related. Personal use is prohibited if it:
• interferes with the user’s productivity or work performance, or with any other employee’s productivity or work performance. The determination of whether an employee’s personal use interferes with their work is at the sole discretion of the College;
• adversely affects the operation of the computer system; and/or
• violates any provision of this policy or any other policy, regulation, law or guideline as set forth by local, State or Federal law

Users of Lake Michigan College’s Internet or electronic communication systems for personal use must present their communications in such a way as to be clear that the communication is personal and is not a communication of Lake Michigan College.

No user has any expectation of privacy in any message, file, image or data created, sent, retrieved or received by use of Lake Michigan College’s Internet or electronic communications systems. The College has the right to monitor any and all aspects of their computer systems including, but not limited to, sites, instant messaging systems, chat groups, or news groups visited by any users, material downloaded or uploaded by any users, and e-mail sent or received by any users. Such monitoring may occur at any time, without notice, and without the user’s permission. Additionally, all messages composed, sent, or received on the e-mail system are and remain the property of the College. They are not the private property of any employee. E-mail communications should be treated like a shared filing system—with the expectation that messages sent will be available for review by any authorized representative of the College for any purpose related to College business. In addition, electronic records may be subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and, therefore, available for public distribution.

Certain activities are prohibited when using the Internet or electronic communications system. These include, but are not limited to:
• accessing, downloading, uploading, printing and/or storing information with sexually explicit content as prohibited by College policies and/or by local, State and Federal law;
• downloading, uploading or transmitting fraudulent, threatening, obscene, intimidating, defamatory, harassing, discriminatory, or otherwise unlawful messages or images; • installing or downloading, uploading or otherwise accessing computer software, programs, or executable files contrary to policy;
• uploading or downloading copyrighted and/or trademark protected materials or proprietary agency information contrary to policy;
• engaging in computer “hacking” or other related activities;
• playing, downloading, uploading or otherwise accessing games, including online gambling
• “chat room” or chat environments;
• disabling or compromising the security of information contained on College computers;
• downloading any software or other programs that may cause the College’s computer to be non-functional in a network environment;
• unless prior approval of management has been obtained, users may not establish Internet or other external network connections that could allow unauthorized persons to gain access to the College’s systems and information; such connections may include the establishment of hosts with public modem dial-ins, World Wide Web home pages and File Transfer Protocol (FTP);
• users should avoid casual or humorous messages as they are often misconstrued or taken out of context;
• users may not use the College’s Internet connection or electronic communications system to solicit or proselytize for commercial ventures, religious or political causes, outside organizations, or other non–job-related solicitations. Use of e-mail, voice-mail, or fax for personal messages, solicitation of employees, or distribution of information not related to the official business of the College, including but not limited to e-mail directed to all users of the College’s system, is prohibited without the prior review and approval of a representative of the College’s Cabinet;
• uploading, downloading, or otherwise accessing, College information contrary to policy or in violation of local, State and Federal law;
• sending email using another’s identity, and/or an assumed name, and/or anonymously;
• permitting a non-user to use for purposes of communicating the message of some third party individual or organization; and
• any other activities designated as prohibited by the College.

The distribution of electronic communications is difficult to control and routing mistakes can easily occur. Copies of electronic communications can be forwarded without the sender’s knowledge or permission to unintended recipients. Therefore, electronic communications should be drafted and sent with at least the same level of care, professional judgment and discretion as paper memoranda or documents.

The conduct of computer users who access the Internet or send e-mail containing the College’s domain address (i.e., may be perceived as reflecting on the character and professionalism of the College. When engaging in such conduct, whether for personal or official purposes, employees are expected to do so in a responsible and professional manner.

All users are responsible for exercising appropriate care to protect the College’s computer systems against the introduction of viruses. When using the College’s Internet access or electronic communications, equipment and capability, individuals must:
• notify a member of the College’s Cabinet if they discover or become aware of a violation of this policy;
• use the Internet or electronic communication systems only in accordance with Lake Michigan College’s Polices and local, State and Federal law;
• maintain the conditions of security (including safeguarding of passwords) under which users are granted access to such systems;
• check with the appropriate staff prior to uploading, downloading or accessing a file or document;
• communicate this policy, if appropriate, to current users and to new users before granting them access to the College’s Internet or electronic communication systems; and
• retain electronic records in accordance with the retention requirements of the Lake Michigan College, and local, State and Federal law.

Violations of this policy will be addressed under Policy Standards of Conduct Policy, or appropriate disciplinary policy or procedures for employees. The appropriate level of disciplinary action will be determined on a case-by-case basis by the department head and/or the Human Resources Officer, with sanctions up to or including termination depending on the severity of the offense.

The Executive Director of Information Technology and Institutional Research is responsible for official interpretation of this policy and will investigate misuse or suspected misuse of this Policy. Questions regarding the application of this Policy should be directed to the Department of Information Technology. The College reserves the right to revise or eliminate this Policy.

Responsibility: Executive Director, Information Technology & Institutional Research

References: Acceptable Use for Technology Resources