by Fernando Quintero
Up until now, it has been a sort of free-for-all for users of the Web and electronic mail.
"The rapid expansion of Web capability for campus users provides unprecedented opportunity to become publishers in a global forum," said Jacqueline Craig, Information Systems and Technology customer service manager.
"This has created a situation in which the university's image may be presented to a universal market with little guidance or direction.
Additionally, emerging law creates new legal risks to which the university may be exposed."
Craig said one of the most common problems on campus is the creation of Web pages without registering them.
There is also the risk of possible copyright violation.
Recognizing the potentials and risks of world-wide publishing, a subgroup of the Berkeley Home Page Steering Committee has drafted a policy intended to guide campus Web authors on the legal and policy considerations that apply to their Web sites.
As for email users, the UC Office of the President has issued a proposed revision of the University of California Electronic Mail Policy.
This policy clarifies the applicability of law and of other university policies to electronic mail.
It also defines new policy and procedures where existing policies do not specifically address issues particular to the use of electronic mail.
The policy was originally issued on an interim basis in August 1996 for implementation on Jan. 1, 1997.
It was developed by the Electronic Mail Policy Task Force with representation from every campus and adopted following review by campuses and the Academic Council.
The original version of the policy is posted at http://www.ucop.edu/ucophome/policies/email/.
After the policy was issued, two Academic Senate committees expressed concerns that warranted further consideration by the task force and resulted in the postponement of the final campus implementation until after Jan. 1.
Altered sections of the original policy are clearly indicated in a copy available on the Web at http://www.ucop.edu/irc/policy/.
The most significant changes in the policy are related to "restrictions on access without consent."
Craig stressed the importance of understanding that, by nature, electronic mail is not entirely confidential. "Email can be easily forwarded, printed, backed up and discovered," she said.
"It has put an entirely different spotlight on the issue of privacy."
Craig added that the privacy rights of students versus staff versus faculty must all be considered.
"For staff and faculty, the use of email is a workplace issue. For students, it's not," she said.
Among faculty and staff, many questions remain about the appropriate use of electronic mail, as there are certain allowances for personal email use.
For example, Craig said she routinely sends email to her son who is in college at UC Santa Cruz.
However, she always remains aware of the fact that her email address ends with "Berkeley.edu," and that she is representing the university in all her electronic correspondence.
"You can get into a sort of danger zone when you're sending an email message from campus to, say, an elected official or a place of business."