Advancing Knowledge through Technology

Policies on Information Technology

This document outlines CHASS policies regarding the use of its information technology. It closely follows policies adopted by the University and/or UTC. These policies were approved on May 5, 1995, by the CHASS director.

Appropriate Use of Information Technology

The University of Toronto is committed to ensuring a working and learning environment in which all persons treat others with humanity and respect. University information technology facilities include computing devices and associated peripherals, communications infrastructure and related equipment, facsimile machines, scanners, copiers, telephones, video and other multimedia devices and all forms of software. Such resources and tools are made available to employees in support of their teaching, research, and administrative activities and to students in support of their respective academic objectives and requirements. Their use is circumscribed by codes such as the Code of Student Conduct, the Code of Behaviour for Academic Matters, the Ontario Human Rights Code, and the Criminal Code of Canada in concert with various rules and guidelines adopted in local units.

Every user bears the primary responsibility for the material he or she chooses to access, send, or display. The facilities may not be used in any manner to create, send or display material which contravenes the relevant policies or statutes. Where devices, such as portable computers, are the property of the user, the appropriate use expectations still apply when such devices are used to access University information technology facilities.

Failure to adhere to these guidelines may result in the suspension of access privileges as well as other action as deemed appropriate by CHASS and/or the University of Toronto.

Appropriate use of information technology includes, for example:

Inappropriate use of information technology includes, for example: CHASS is a host to Web homepages for many individual account holders. Individual Web sites should be primarily of an academic nature. This means that although a member's web site may contain personal information, the bulk of the site's contents must be academic. Information hosted must be primarily that of the user's own work, and must not be commercially based. In addition, hosting of Web sites for other individuals or organizations without prior consent from CHASS is not allowed. CHASS computing accounts expire (including web pages), once the member graduates or leaves the University of Toronto.

Procedures for Dealing with Infractions

The nature, severity and possible consequences arising from infractions of the appropriate use of CHASS information technology resources cover a wide spectrum. These can range from mere inconvenience or loss of privileges to damage to CHASS's or the University's reputation or even to charges being laid if federal or provincial laws have been violated. The speed, nature and escalation of notification procedures will be commensurate with the severity of the infraction.

For infractions that contravene established University policy or CHASS Computing Facility rules, the CHASS Systems Administrator will proceed in accordance with the applicable codes or rules and will inform the department head or chair of the event and the action taken.

Violations that have broader consequences such as unauthorized access to and/or modification of institutional data here or elsewhere, or the commission of illegal acts require additional consideration. The process will include notification of the dean or division head as well as the department head or chair. At the same time, Security Administration in the Technology Support department of Computing and Communications will be informed immediately by telephone, voicemail, electronic mail, or facsimile. In the absence of a response confirming receipt of the notification within an hour, the vice-provost and assistant vice-president (planning) will be informed directly.

Should the circumstances warrant it, the dean or division head, in collaboration with the vice-provost and assistant vice-president (planning), should inform the provost or president and a joint decision may be taken to inform the appropriate legal body or law enforcement agency.

Infractions may be reported to the CHASS Information Officer at (416) 978-2535, or to the CHASS director at (416) 978-4304.

Position Statement on Censorship

CHASS does not and will not act as a censor of information available on our network but will investigate properly identified allegations arising from the University community and will comply with applicable federal and provincial laws. To the extent that the latter requires specifically identified information to be banned pursuant to a court order, CHASS will make every practical attempt to comply with both the spirit and the substance of the law.

By way of clarification, it must be noted that there can be many practical reasons including network and storage resource constraints that would cause CHASS to limit the numbers, types and storage retention periods of various information classes, either temporarily or permanently. Similar decisions which might further restrict the classes of information available locally can and should be made by local units, such as colleges and departments, consistent with the intended usage of available information and the capacity of local facilities.

Guidelines Regarding the Issue of Potentially Offensive Material

These guidelines address the issue of potentially offensive information on the CHASS computer systems, whether generated locally or imported from other systems via the Internet. Other than the particular modality of the computer and network, the issues to be addressed are not generally technical. Any guidelines or procedures for handling this particular situation address only a single facet of a much broader policy issue regarding the production, storage, dissemination of and access to information available using information technology facilities. Rather than dealing with the global issue, these guidelines (in this section) focus only on the handling, dissemination and display of objectionable material.

First, a guiding principle is that CHASS will ensure that its efforts to create an environment in which all its members treat each other with respect extend to facilities and activities associated with information technology.

There are wide variations in the range of things to which people take offense. What may be offensive to one person may seem innocuous or even informative to another. Generally, a person's access to a particular piece of information will not be proscribed simply because someone else finds it offensive. On the other hand, no one should be involuntarily presented with information which the person transmitting it should reasonably know would be viewed by the recipient as offensive or insulting.

Thus, when a member of the University community, with properly authorized access to the CHASS network, actively seeks information which is legitimately and publicly available on a computer or network, CHASS will ordinarily take no action to restrict that individual's access based on the nature of the information being sought.

In situations where a member of our community is presented, through the network, with offensive information without consent having been either sought or granted, CHASS will investigate the incident and take appropriate action. Such action may include, for example, referring any information about the incident to the faculty, offices or college, or assisting the complainant in bringing action under the appropriate University code of behaviour. Relevant policies include the Code of Student Conduct and the Sexual Harassment policy, among others.

Complaints about potentially illegal information being produced locally will be investigated, and the University may initiate criminal charges directly and/or actions under the relevant University codes of behaviour.

Comments and suggestions regarding this page can be sent to Chris Leowski of the CHASS Computing Facility.

Created May 5, 1995.

Last updated October 10, 1998.