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Acceptable Use of Electronic Resources policy

Caltech provides electronic information resources (including, but not limited to, computers, computer accounts and services, networks, software, electronic mail services, electronic information sources, video and voice services, servers, web pages, mobile devices and related services) to assist members of the Caltech community in the pursuit of education and research. This policy, in conjunction with other applicable Caltech policies, sets forth the acceptable use of all electronic information resources owned or managed by Caltech, and describes the rights and responsibilities of Caltech and of faculty, staff, students, and other members of the Caltech community with respect to the use of these resources.

Electronic information resources provided by Caltech are intended to be used to carry out the legitimate business of Caltech, although some incidental personal use is permitted. Faculty, staff, students, and other members of the Caltech community ("users") who use Caltech's electronic information resources should be guided by the Caltech Code of Conduct. Passwords issued to users are for their use only and are not to be shared with others. Users assume responsibility for the appropriate use of Caltech's electronic information resources and agree to comply with all relevant Caltech policies and all applicable local, state, and federal laws. Examples of inappropriate or unauthorized use of Caltech's electronic information resources include:

  • sending a communication or using electronic information resources, including web pages, that illegally discriminate against, harass, defame, or threaten individuals or organizations;
  • engaging in illegal conduct or conduct that violates Caltech policy;
  • destruction of or damage to equipment, software, or data belonging to others;
  • disruption or unauthorized monitoring of electronic communications;
  • interference with use of Caltech systems;
  • violations of computer security systems;
  • unauthorized use of accounts, access codes, or identification numbers;
  • use that intentionally impedes the legitimate computing activities of others;
  • use for commercial purposes;
  • use for political or lobbying activities that jeopardize Caltech's tax-exempt status and, therefore, violates Caltech policy;
  • violation of copyrights, software license agreements, patent protections and authorizations, or protections on proprietary or confidential information;
  • unauthorized use of Caltech's trademarks;
  • violating copyright laws by downloading and sharing copyrighted files;
  • violations of privacy;
  • academic dishonesty;
  • sending chain mail;
  • spamming;
  • downloading, viewing, and/or sharing of materials in violation of Caltech's policies regarding Unlawful Harassment and Sex- and Gender-Based Misconduct
  • intrusion into computer systems to alter or destroy data or computer programs (e.g., hacking or cracking); or
  • sending communications that attempt to hide the identity of the sender or represent the sender as someone else.

Caltech will apply this policy consistent with applicable requirements under federal and state law and its obligations under the European Union General Data Protection Regulation with respect to protection of personal data of individuals located in the European Union. This policy will not be construed or applied in a manner that improperly interferes with employees' rights under the National Labor Relations Act.

Caltech's electronic information resources are Caltech property and users should not have an expectation of privacy with respect to their use of these resources or any of the data, files, or other records generated by, stored or maintained on them. Password capabilities and other authentication measures are provided to users in order to safeguard electronic messages, data, files, and other records (including computer files and records, electronic mail, and voice mail) from unauthorized use. These safeguards are not intended to provide confidentiality from Caltech with respect to personal messages or files stored on electronic information resources owned and managed by Caltech.

While Caltech does not routinely examine the content of electronic mail messages or otherwise monitor individual usage, it does routinely monitor the normal operation of computing and networking resources, including network activity patterns, system logs, general and individual usage patterns, and other indicia necessary to ensure the integrity and stability of its electronic information resources. Caltech will investigate suspected abuse, misuse, or compromise of its resources, systems, and services.

Caltech typically does not access the content of electronic messages or other data, files, or records generated, stored, or maintained on its electronic information resources; however, it retains the right to inspect, review, or retain the content of any such messages, data, files, and records at any time without prior notification. Any such action will be taken for reasons Caltech, within its discretion, deems to be legitimate. These legitimate reasons may include, but are not limited to, responding to lawful subpoenas or court orders; investigating misconduct (including research misconduct); determining compliance with Caltech policies and the law; and locating electronic messages, data, files, or other records related to these purposes. Users must therefore understand that any electronic messages, data, files, and other records generated by, stored, or maintained on Caltech electronic information resources may be electronically accessed, reconstructed, or retrieved by Caltech even after they have been deleted.

Caltech access to the content of electronic mail, data, files, or other records generated, stored, or maintained by any user for reasons such as those described in the previous paragraph must be authorized as follows: (1) by the provost for any situations that require access to electronic materials associated with faculty and other academic personnel; (2) by the vice president of administration and chief financial 0fficer for staff and postdoctoral scholars at campus or the JPL director for human resources for employees and postdoctoral scholars at JPL; (3) by the vice president for student affairs for students; or (4) by the general counsel for the purposes of complying with legal process and requirements or to preserve user electronic information for possible subsequent access in accordance with this policy. In all cases, the Office of the General Counsel should be consulted prior to deciding on whether to grant access. In the case of a time-critical matter, if the authorizing official is unavailable for a timely response, the general counsel may authorize access.

In conclusion, the use of Caltech electronic information resources is a privilege, not a right, and Caltech may revoke this privilege or decline to extend this privilege at any time. Inappropriate use of Caltech resources may result in administrative discipline up to and including separation from Caltech. Suspected illegal acts involving Caltech electronic information resources may be reported to state and/or federal authorities, and may result in prosecution by those authorities. Any questions concerning the appropriate use of any of Caltech's electronic information resources or relevant Caltech policies should be directed to the provost, the general counsel, the chief Information officer, the associate vice president for human resources, the JPL director for human resources, the dean of undergraduate students, or the dean of graduate studies.

last updated August 2020