Many organizations that provide technology services to a group of constituents or the public require agreement to an acceptable use policy (AUP) before those services can be accessed. Similar to a code of ethics, this policy outlines what is allowed and what is not allowed while someone is using the organization’s services. An everyday example of this is the terms of service that must be agreed to before using the public Wi-Fi at Starbucks, McDonald’s, or even a university. Here is an example of an acceptable use policy from Virginia Tech.
Just as with a code of ethics, these acceptable use policies specify what is allowed and what is not allowed. Again, while some of the items listed are obvious to most, others are not so obvious:
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• “Borrowing” someone else’s login ID and password is prohibited. • Using the provided access for commercial purposes, such as hosting your own business website,
is not allowed. • Sending out unsolicited email to a large group of people is prohibited.
Also as with codes of ethics, violations of these policies have various consequences. In most cases, such as with Wi-Fi, violating the acceptable use policy will mean that you will lose your access to the resource. While losing access to Wi-Fi at Starbucks may not have a lasting impact, a university student getting banned from the university’s Wi-Fi (or possibly all network resources) could have a large impact.