2015-2016 Graduate Bulletin

The City University of New York Policy on Acceptable Use of Computer Resources


CUNY’s computer resources are dedicated to the support of the University’s mission of education, research and public service. In furtherance of this mission, CUNY respects, upholds and endeavors to safeguard the principles of academic freedom, freedom of expression and freedom of inquiry.

CUNY recognizes that there is a concern among the University community that because information created, used, transmitted or stored in electronic form is by its nature susceptible to disclosure, invasion, loss and similar risks, electronic communications and transactions will be particularly vulnerable to infringements of academic freedom.

CUNY’s commitment to the principles of academic freedom and freedom of expression includes electronic information. Therefore, whenever possible, CUNY will resolve doubts about the need to access CUNY computer resources in favor of a user’s privacy interest.

However, the use of CUNY computer resources, including for electronic transactions and communications, like the use of other University-provided resources and activities, is subject to the requirements of legal and ethical behavior. This policy is intended to support the free exchange of ideas among members of the CUNY community and between the CUNY community and other communities, while recognizing the responsibilities and limitations associated with such exchange.


This policy applies to all users of CUNY computer resources, whether affiliated with CUNY or not, and whether accessing those resources on a CUNY campus or remotely.

This policy supersedes the CUNY policy titled “CUNY Computer User Responsibilities” and any college policies that are inconsistent with this policy.


“CUNY computer resources” refers to all computer and information technology hardware, software, data, access and other resources owned, operated, or contracted by CUNY. This includes, but is not limited to, personal computers, handheld devices, workstations, mainframes, minicomputers, servers, network facilities, databases, memory, and associated peripherals and software; and the applications they support, such as email and access to the internet.

“E-mail” includes point-to-point messages, postings to newsgroups and listservs, and other electronic messages involving computers and computer networks.

Rules for Use of CUNY Computer Resources

1. Authorization

Users may not access a CUNY computer resource without authorization or use it for purposes beyond the scope of authorization. This includes attempting to circumvent CUNY computer resource system protection facilities by hacking, cracking or similar activities; accessing or using another person’s computer account; and allowing another person to access or use the user’s account. This provision shall not prevent a user from authorizing a colleague or clerical assistant to access information under the user’s account on the user’s behalf while away from a CUNY campus or because of a disability. CUNY computer resources may not be used to gain unauthorized access to another computer system within or outside of CUNY. Users are responsible for all actions performed from their computer account that they permitted or failed to prevent by taking ordinary security precautions.

2. Purpose

Use of CUNY computer resources is limited to activities relating to the performance by CUNY employees of their duties and responsibilities. For example, use of CUNY computer resources for private commercial or not-for-profit business purposes, for private advertising of products or services, or for any activity meant solely to foster personal gain, is prohibited. Similarly, use of CUNY computer resources for partisan political activity is also prohibited.

Except with respect to CUNY employees other than faculty, where a supervisor has prohibited it in writing, incidental personal use of computer resources is permitted so long as such use does not interfere with CUNY operations, does not compromise the functioning of CUNY computer resources, does not interfere with the user’s employment or other obligations to CUNY, and is otherwise in compliance with this policy.

3. Compliance with Law

CUNY computer resources may not be used for any purpose or in any manner that violates CUNY rules, regulations or policies, or federal, state or local law. Users who engage in electronic communications with persons in other states or countries or on other systems or networks may also be subject to the laws of those other states and countries, and the rules and policies of those other systems and networks. Users are responsible for ascertaining, understanding, and complying with the laws, rules, policies, contracts, and licenses applicable to their particular use.

Examples of applicable federal and state laws include the laws of libel, obscenity and child pornography, as well as the following:

  • Computer Fraud and Abuse Act
  • Copyright Act of 1976
  • Electronic Communications Privacy Act
  • Export control regulations issued by the U.S. Departments of Commerce, State and Treasury
  • Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
  • New York State Freedom of Information Law
  • New York State Law with respect to the confidentiality of library records

Examples of applicable CUNY rules and policies include the following:

  • Sexual Harassment Policy
  • Policy on Maintenance of Public Order
  • Web Site Privacy Policy
  • Gramm-Leach-Bliley Information Security Program
  • University Policy on Academic Integrity
  • Information Security policies

4. Licenses and Intellectual Property

Users of CUNY computer resources may use only legally obtained, licensed data or software and must comply with applicable licenses or other contracts, as well as copyright, trademark and other intellectual property laws.

Much of what appears on the internet and/or is distributed via electronic communication is protected by copyright law, regardless of whether the copyright is expressly noted. Users of CUNY computer resources should generally assume that material is copyrighted unless they know otherwise, and not copy, download or distribute copyrighted material without permission unless the use does not exceed fair use as defined by the federal Copyright Act of 1976. Protected material may include, among other things, text, photographs, audio, video, graphic illustrations and computer software.

5. False Identity and Harassment

Users of CUNY computer resources may not employ a false identity, mask the identity of an account or computer, or use computer resources to engage in abuse of others, such as sending harassing, obscene, threatening, abusive, deceptive, or anonymous messages within or outside CUNY.

6. Confidentiality

Users of CUNY computer resources may not invade the privacy of others by, among other things, viewing, copying, modifying or destroying data or programs belonging to or containing personal or confidential information about others, without explicit permission to do so. CUNY employees must take precautions to protect the confidentiality of personal or confidential information encountered in the performance of their duties or otherwise.

7. Integrity of Computer Resources

Users may not install, use or develop programs intended to infiltrate or damage a computer resource, or which could reasonably be expected to cause, directly or indirectly, excessive strain on any computing facility. This includes, but is not limited to, programs known as computer viruses, Trojan horses, and worms. Users should consult with the IT director at their college before installing any programs that they are not sure are safe.

8. Disruptive Activities

CUNY computer resources must not be used in a manner that could reasonably be expected to cause or does cause, directly or indirectly, unwarranted or unsolicited interference with the activity of other users. This provision explicitly prohibits chain letters, virus hoaxes or other intentional e-mail transmissions that disrupt normal e-mail service. Also prohibited are spamming, junk mail or other unsolicited mail that is not related to CUNY business and is sent without a reasonable expectation that the recipient would welcome receiving it, as well as the inclusion on e-mail lists of individuals who have not requested membership on the lists, other than the inclusion of members of the CUNY community on lists related to CUNY business. CUNY has the right to require users of CUNY computer resources to limit or refrain from other specific uses if, in the opinion of the IT director at the user’s college, such use interferes with efficient operations of the system, subject to appeal to the President or, in the case of central office staff, to the Chancellor.

Further information about the CUNY Policy on Acceptable Use of Computer Resources may be accessed at: