Student Handbook 2016-2017

Acceptable Computer Use Guidelines

In making decisions regarding access to the Internet and use of its computers, the Technical College System of Georgia considers its own stated educational mission, goals, and objectives. Electronic information research skills are now fundamental to preparation of citizens and future employees. TCSG expects faculty to blend thoughtful use of the Internet throughout the curriculum and provide guidance and instruction to students in its use.

Using a computer without permission is theft of services and is illegal under state and federal laws. Federal law prohibits misuse of computer resources. In addition, the following specific computer crimes are prohibited by state law in Georgia (O.C.G.A. § 16-9-90 et seq.):

Computer theft (including theft of computer services, intellectual property such as copyrighted material, and any other property);

Computer trespass (unauthorized use of computers to delete or alter data or interfere with others’ usage);

Computer invasion of privacy (unauthorized access to financial or personal data or the like);

Computer forgery (forgery as defined by other laws, but committed on a computer rather than on paper);

Computer password disclosure (unauthorized disclosure of a password resulting in damages exceeding $500 - in practice, this includes any disclosure that requires a system security audit afterward); and

Misleading transmittal of names or trademarks (falsely identifying yourself or falsely claiming to speak for a person or organization by using their name, trademark, logo, or seal).

Maximum penalties for the first four crimes in the list are a $50,000 fine and 15 years of imprisonment, plus civil liability. The maximum penalties for computer password disclosure are a $5,000 fine and 1 year of imprisonment, plus civil liability.

The purpose of Georgia Northwestern Technical College-provided Internet access is to facilitate communications in support of research and education. To remain eligible as users, students’ use must be in support of and consistent with the educational objectives of the department. Access is a privilege, not a right. Access entails responsibility.

Users should not expect files stored on Georgia Northwestern Technical College-based computers to be private. Electronic messages and files stored on Georgia Northwestern Technical College-based computers shall be treated like other GNTC premises that are temporarily assigned for individual use. Administrators may review files and messages in an effort to maintain system integrity and in an effort to insure that users are acting responsibly. Moreover, Georgia Northwestern Technical College officials shall cooperate with law enforcement officials who are properly authorized to search GNTC computers and computer systems.

The following uses of GNTC-provided computers, networks, and Internet access are not permitted:

  • To create, access, or transmit sexually explicit, obscene, or pornographic material;
  • To create, access, or transmit material that could be considered discriminatory, offensive, threatening, harassing, intimidating, or attempts to libel or otherwise defame any person.
  • To violate any local, state, or federal statute;
  • To vandalize, damage, or disable the property of another individual or organization;
  • To access another individual’s password, materials, information, or files without permission;
  • To violate copyright or otherwise use the intellectual property of another individual or organization in violation of the law, including software piracy;
  • To conduct private or personal for-profit activities. This includes use for private purposes such as business transactions, private advertising of products or services, and any activity meant to foster personal gain;
  • To knowingly endanger the security of any TCSG or Technical College computer or network; To willfully interfere with another’s authorized computer usage;
  • To connect any computer to any of the TCSG or Technical College networks unless it meets technical and security standards set by TCSG; To create, install, or knowingly distribute a computer virus, “Trojan horse,” or other surreptitiously destructive program on any TCSG or Technical College computer or network facility, regardless of whether any demonstrable harm results; and
  • To modify or reconfigure the software or hardware of any TCSG computer or network without proper authorization. To conduct unauthorized not-for-profit business activities;
  • To conduct any activity or solicitation for political or religious causes;
  • To perform any activity that could cause the loss, corruption of, prevention of rightful access to, or unauthorized distribution of TCSG data and information; and
  • To create, access, or participate in online gambling. Occasional access to information or websites of the Georgia Lottery Corporation shall not constitute nor be considered inappropriate use.

Occasional personal use of Internet connectivity and email that do not involve any inappropriate use as described above may occur at GNTC. Any such use should be brief, infrequent, and shall not interfere with user’s performance, duties, and responsibilities.

Users of GNTC computers and computer systems are subject to the TCSG’s policy on the development of Intellectual Property. Any violation of this policy and rules may result in disciplinary action against the employee or student. When and where applicable, law enforcement agencies may be involved.

GNTC makes no warranties of any kind, either express or implied, for the computers, computer systems, and Internet access it provides. GNTC shall not be responsible for any damages users suffer, including but not limited to loss of data resulting from delays or interruptions in service. GNTC shall not be responsible for the accuracy, nature, or quality of information gathered through GNTC media, hard drives, or servers; nor for the accuracy, nature, or quality of information gathered through GNTC-provided Internet access. GNTC shall not be responsible for personal property used to access its computers or networks or for GNTC-provided Internet access. GNTC shall not be responsible for unauthorized financial obligations resulting from GNTC-provided access to the Internet.

The foregoing standards are equally applicable to employees of GNTC, wherever housed, and to employees and students of Georgia Northwestern Technical College.

Violations of these policies incur the same types of disciplinary measures as violations of other TCSG or GNTC policies or state or federal laws, including criminal prosecution.