Acceptable Use Policy

Most educational institutions have a document that governs the use of the computers and networks owned by the institution. This document, commonly called an Acceptable Use Policy or AUP, outlines what types of uses are acceptable and which are prohibited. Although a particular institution’s AUP will be unique, most have the following three categories defining rights and responsibilities in using equipment in a legal and ethical manner:


  • Personal computer files (documents):
    • Storage location
    • Storage space allocation
    • Types of files allowed
    • Printable items and quantity
  • Personal and private information:
    • Sharable information
    • E-mail and personal file privacy
    • Monitoring on-line activities
  • Ethical conduct:
    • Care and consideration of equipment
    • Consideration for the rights of other users
    • Policies concerning games, personal Web browsing, chat, and instant messaging
    • System security
    • Software and plug-in installation
    • Unacceptable topics, words, and graphics for papers, e-mail, and Web-page viewing such as pornography, profanity, terrorism, illegal substances, etc.

AUPs are legal documents that should be understood and followed.


Because of the way Utah State University is structured, there is not one official AUP that covers all campus resources, rather each entity providing computing services is responsible for maintaining an AUP for those resources they offer. The IT office has provided an Appropriate Use document, which is a good place to start.


SCENARIO: Ben Flying Eagle is finished with his assignment for the day so he wants to get on Yahoo to chat with his friend in another class. The school’s AUP states that chat is not allowed on school computers because too many unsafe situations occur in chat rooms. Ben isn’t planning to use a public chat room. He just wants to have a private conversation with his friend. Is he breaking the school’s AUP if he chats with his friend? Is he breaking the school’s AUP if he uses Instant Messaging instead of Yahoo Chat?


SOLUTION: If the AUP does not differentiate between public and private chat, chatting is not allowed.