Computer and Network Usage Policy

General Principles

Access to computer systems and networks owned or operated by Northern Essex Community College imposes certain responsibilities and obligations and is granted subject to college policies, and local, state and federal laws. Acceptable use is always ethical, reflects academic honesty, and shows restraint in the consumption of shared resources. It demonstrates respect for intellectual property, ownership of data, system security mechanisms, and individual rights to privacy.


In making acceptable use of resources you must:

  • Use the College’s Web Site, Server, and all other related computer equipment and services only for academic, educational, or professional purposes which are directly related to official College business and in support of the college’s mission.
  • Be responsible for all activities conducted on your user ID. A user is prohibited from disclosing his/her user ID to anyone for use on the College’s Computer Network.
  • Access only files and data that are your own, that are publicly available, or to which you have authorized access.
  • Be considerate in your use of shared resources. Refrain from monopolizing systems, overloading networks with excessive data, or wasting computer time, disk space, printer paper, manuals or other resources.

In making acceptable use of resources you must NOT:

  • Use another person’s user ID, password, files, or data without permission.
  • Use computer programs to decode passwords or access control information.
  • View, download, store, or transmit child pornographic materials or obscene materials. Materials are considered obscene if: (1) the average person, applying community standards, would find the material appeals to the prurient interest: (2) the material describes and depicts sexual conduct in a patently offensive manner; and (3) taken as a whole, the material lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.
  • Circumvent, subvert, or attempt to circumvent or subvert system or network security measures.
  • Purposely engage in any activity that might be harmful to system/network or to any information stored thereon, such as creating or propagating viruses, disrupting services, or damaging files.
  • Pursuant to Massachusetts Campaign Finance Laws, no governmental resources (including computers fax machines, modems, printers, and/or copy machines) may be used by any person (including a public employee, whether during work hours or otherwise) in order to promote or oppose a political candidate or ballot question or for the purpose of disseminating materials that advocate a particular vote on a ballot question or a political candidate. Further, in addition to a prohibition of any type of political fundraising on State property, a public employee is further prohibited from soliciting or receiving, directly or indirectly, any contribution for any political purpose.
  • Make or use illegal copies of copyrighted software, store such copies on College systems, or transmit them over College networks.
  • Download any on-line software without authorization from the Dean of Information Services or his/her designee.
  • Use the network for purposes which place a heavy load on scarce resources.
  • Use Northern Essex Community College’s computers or networks to libel, slander, or harass any other person. The following shall constitute Computer Harassment: (1) Using the computer to annoy, harass, terrify, intimidate, threaten, offend or bother another person by conveying obscene language, pictures, or other materials or threats of bodily harm to the recipient or the recipient’s immediate family; (2) Using the computer to contact another person repeatedly regarding a matter for which one does not have a legal right to communicate, once the recipient has provided reasonable notice that he or she desires such communication to cease (such as debt collection); (3) Using the computer to disrupt or damage the academic research, administrative, or related pursuits of another; (4) Using the computer to invade the privacy, academic or otherwise, of another or threatened invasion of privacy of another.
  • Waste computer resources, for example, by intentionally placing a program in an endless loop or by printing excessive amounts of paper.
  • Use the College’s systems or networks for personal gain; for example, by selling access to your user ID or to College systems or networks, or by performing work for profit with College resources in a manner not authorized by the College.
  • Use the College’s systems or networks to transmit any material in violation of United States or Massachusetts laws or regulations.
  • Engage in recreational game playing.
  • Engage in any other activity that does not comply with the General Principles presented above.


College officials will review alleged violations of acceptable use policies on a case-by-case basis. Violations of policy will result in appropriate actions such as: loss of computer lab privileges, electronic mail privilege, loss of computer privilege, consideration of appropriate disciplinary measures and/or referral to appropriate authorities responsible for enforcing state and federal laws concerning computer use.

The College reserves the right to deny access to its computer and communications network to any user who breaches this or any other College Policy. Further, if it is determined that a user is engaging in unauthorized activity, the College reserves the right to disconnect that user from the Network. All alleged breaches of this Policy will be referred to and reviewed by the appropriate Student/Staff Disciplinary Committee.

Breaches of this Computer and Network usage Policy will be referred to appropriate administrators for consideration of discipline in accordance with applicable disciplinary policy and procedures.

The College considers any violation of acceptable use of principles or guidelines to be a serious offense and reserves the right to copy and examine any files or information resident on college systems allegedly relating to unacceptable use. Violators are subject to disciplinary action as prescribed in student and employee policies, handbooks, or contracts. Offenders also may be prosecuted under laws including (but not limited to) the Privacy Protection Act of 1974, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986, The computer Virus Eradication Act of 1989, Interstate Privacy Act (20 U.S.C. Section 1223g), Massachusetts Wiretap Statute (G.L. c.272, Section 99), Massachusetts Privacy Statute (G.L. c.214 Section 1B), Copyright Infringement laws [17 U.S.C. Section 101 et seq.), the Communications Decency Act of 1996 {47 U.S.C. Section 223 (d) – (h)], and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (18 U.S.C. Sections 2510-21, 2701-10, 3121-27). The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Massachusetts Defamation laws, and State and Federal sexual harassment and discrimination laws. Access to the text of these laws is available through the Reference Department at the Library of Northern Essex Community College.

Use Priority

While supporting the general principle of open and universal student access, eligibility for service will be determined by the Dean of Information Services or designee using the following priorities if insufficient resources are available:

  • The highest priority is awarded to students where computer use is a mandatory requirement of a course in which they are currently enrolled.
  • At the next level, access will be granted where there is a demonstrated, but non-mandatory requirement for computer use as described in a course guide.
  • The lowest or non-essential level of access will be based upon the general principle of universal access and support for academic pursuit while not directly stipulated within a prescribed course of study.


Users of the College’s Computer Network System should have no expectation of privacy over any communications, transmissions, or work performed thereon. Computers owned by the College are provided for college and educational use only. Note that the college retains ownership of all communications as business records and these records may be subject to discovery in litigation. Any information on a college computer may be subject to the state’s public record law and may therefore be subject to disclosure upon request. By using computers on campus, employees and students are waiving their right to privacy and are consenting to College review and monitoring of communication and of their computer use. The College does not routinely monitor computer files or content unless it receives notice of possible misuse or violation of policy. But in the course of routine maintenance, the content of your computer files may become visible.

Unauthorized interception, reading, copying or modifying of private electronic data by a student or an employee will be in breach of this code of practice and subject to disciplinary or legal proceedings. The College will not guarantee this privacy as a result of routine maintenance, technical fault or criminal activity. See also comments under the Electronic Mail Policy; note that any electronic mail message may be forwarded by the recipient or printed or distributed. The privacy of email, therefore, cannot be guaranteed. Further:

  • Except in the course of investigation of an alleged violation of policy, routine system maintenance, technical problems, or criminal investigations, no college employee will be permitted to intercept, read, copy or modify private electronic data (either in transit across a network or stored within a computer system) without consent of the President or consent of the addressee or sender.

While the College will endeavor to maintain the privacy of personal communications, it will monitor traffic load, and where necessary, take action to protect the integrity and operation of its networks. Further the College will:

  • Collect utilization statistics based upon network protocol and application use.
  • Progressively restrict non-essential users where network utilization results in performance degradation. Such restriction will be publicized to users through appropriate means.


The College does not permit the transfer of user ID and password between authorized and unauthorized persons. Such action is deemed unacceptable and will be the subject of disciplinary action. Further:

  • If it is necessary to allow an authorized third person to access a user’s files or data, as in the case of illness or changing of position, this information will be transferred by the system administrator rather than via the transfer of user ID and password.
  • Student user accounts and all data found in student user accounts may be removed at the end of each semester.

Eligibility for and Cost of Accounts

The following persons are eligible to hold accounts on the College computer network:

  • Employees (full or part-time)
  • Currently enrolled NECC students
  • Others as designated by the President

Northern Essex Community College owns all computer accounts and grants to the user the privilege of using the resources. File space will be limited for all users. Students may access computer resources, including the Internet and the World Wide Web, at no charge, from campus based machines. No dial-in access is provided to students at this time.

Electronic Mail Policy

Users of the College’s Computer Network System for electronic mail purposes should have no expectation of privacy over any email communications or transmissions sent or received. Further, the College may access email communications or transmissions for routine system maintenance, technical problems or criminal investigations.

Acceptable Use

Use of electronic mail is to be consistent with the Computer and Network Usage Policy of Northern Essex Community College. Use of NECC computers for electronic mail that is not consistent with our Computer and Network Usage Policy may result in termination of electronic mail privileges. Electronic mail should be used as a source of information and efficient communication by students, faculty and staff in the educational community.

Suggested Guidelines

Sending Messages:

  • Create single subject messages whenever possible
  • Exercise caution. The confidentiality of your message cannot be guaranteed. Messages can be misdirected and/or be forwarded by recipients to other electronic mail addresses.
  • Because messages can be saved on storage media or be forwarded to recipients at other electronic mail addresses, assume that any message you send is permanent.
  • Separate opinion from non-opinion and clearly label each.
  • If emotion is included in a message, clearly label it.
  • Identify yourself clearly.
  • Be selective in sending messages to listservs, interest groups, bulletin boards, etc.
  • Do not insult or criticize third parties without giving them a chance to respond.

Receiving Messages:

  • If you receive a message intended for another person, notify sender.
  • Avoid responding while emotional.

Internet and World Wide Web Access

Use of the Internet or World Wide Web must be consistent with the Computer and Network Usage Policy of Northern Essex Community College. Users of the Internet or World Wide Web are solely responsible for all materials viewed, stored, transmitted, or downloaded. Further, the college does not control, monitor, review, or restrict information accessed over the Internet or World Wide Web. Complaints of inappropriate use of the Internet or World Wide Web will be investigated and, if confirmed, may result in disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.

Copyright Infringement

Pursuant to the digital Millennium copyright Act (Public Law: 105-304), 17 U.S.C. §1203(i) (1) (A), which was enacted into law on October 28, 1998, any user of the College’s computer system network who engages in copyright infringement shall have his/her access privileges terminated.