New UC PolicyAffects All Campus Email Users

by Cathy Cockrell

Are email messages you send and receive backed up on a server or on your campus workstation? Are you allowed to send personal email messages over the campus network?

These and many other issues regarding use of email are covered by a new UC policy governing all campus electronic mail services. Each campus is required to develop implementation guidelines consistent with the systemwide policy. Campuses are expected to finalize their procedures and policies within the next three months.

Individual departments or units on campus may implement additional, local procedures and practices further refining the university email policy.

Issues covered by the UC email policy include restrictions on access without consent, misuse, allowable uses, securing and confidentiality, archiving and retention and policy violations.

With regard to personal use of email, section VI.A.8 states that university email services "may be used for incidental personal purposes" provided that such use does not "directly or indirectly interfere with the university operation of computing facilities or electronic mail services."

It also says that personal email use must not "burden the university with noticeable incremental costs" or "interfere with the user's employment or other obligations to the university."

With regard to security and confidentiality, the policy says that the university "respects the privacy of users" and "does not routinely inspect, monitor, or disclose electronic mail without the holder's consent," although it may do so "when required by and consistent with law" or, in exceptional cases, "when required to meet time-dependent, critical operational needs." Further details on this topic are covered in section VI.B of the systemwide policy.

The policy cautions users that "both the nature of electronic mail and the public character of the university's business make electronic mail less private than users may anticipate" -- such as when an individual's message ends up being forwarded to others or unintentionally distributed to all subscribers on a listserver.

Whether an individual's email messages are backed up on a server or stored on a local hard drive depends on the particular email program in use within a specific department. The policy encourages users "to request information on the back-up practices followed by the operators of university electronic mail services," and requires such operators "to provide such information upon request."

Individuals are encouraged to ask their supervisors about other departmental policies regarding the use of email as well.

The Berkeley campus implementation coordinator is Jacqueline Craig (jcraig@garnet.berkeley. edu).


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