Acceptable Use Policy


This policy is designed to establish acceptable and appropriate use of computer and information systems, networks and other information technology resources at Georgetown University. More importantly, it is meant as an application of the principles of respect and reverence for every person that are at the core of Georgetown’s Catholic, Jesuit identity.


Students, faculty and staff, fellows, visiting scholars, affiliates, campus visitors, Georgetown University Hospital employees when they use GU resources, et al. Anyone using Georgetown University information technology resources

Guiding principles

The Georgetown University community is encouraged to make innovative and creative use of information technologies in support of education and research. Access to information representing a multitude of views on current and historical issues is allowed for the interest, information and enlightenment of the Georgetown University community. Consistent with other University policies, this policy is intended to respect the rights and obligations of academic freedom. The University recognizes that the purpose of copyright is to protect the rights of the creators of intellectual property and to prevent the unauthorized use or sale of works available in the private sector. Also consistent with other University policies, an individual’s right of access to information technology resources and materials should not be denied or abridged because of race, creed, color, age, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or disability.

Georgetown University computing and network resources are to be used only for University-related research, instruction, learning, enrichment, dissemination of scholarly information, and administrative activities. The computing and network facilities of the University are limited and should be used wisely and carefully with consideration for the needs of others. Computers and network systems offer powerful tools for communications, education and research among members of the University community and communities outside the University. When used appropriately, these tools can enhance dialog and communications. When used unlawfully or inappropriately, however, these tools can infringe on the beliefs or rights of others.


The University cannot protect individuals against the existence or receipt of material that may be offensive to them. As such, those who make use of electronic resources and communications are warned that they may come across or be recipients of material they find offensive.1


The University encourages all members of its community to use electronic communications in a manner that is respectful to others. The following examples, though not covering every situation, specify some of the responsibilities that accompany computer use at Georgetown and/or on networks to which Georgetown is connected.

  1. Functionality and Availability
    You must ensure that your actions and the computers you own or that are assigned for your use do not negatively impact the functionality and availability of the Georgetown University computer systems, enterprise and application systems, and network services. You must ensure that your computer is properly maintained, including having up-to-date anti-virus protection and operating system patches. Responsible use of computing and network resources requires users to realize that any attempt to modify or extend resources could result in degradation of systems or performance elsewhere on the network. You must not disrupt routine operations by tampering with any hardware, networks, applications, system files or other users’ files without authorization or permission; circumventing or altering software or physical protections or other restrictions placed on computers, networks, software, applications or files (other than your own files or applications you manage). Similarly, you may not make resources available to circumvent or alter software protections or other restrictions placed on computers, networks, applications or files (other than your own files)
  2. Computer Accounts
    You must use only your own computer account(s), and may not attempt to impersonate the identities of others. You may not supply false or misleading data nor improperly obtain another’s password in order to gain access to computers or network systems, data or information. The negligence or naivete; of another person in revealing an account name or password is not considered authorization of use. You should not use the convenience of file or printer sharing as justification for sharing a computer account.[3] You must not attempt to subvert the restrictions associated with your computer accounts or network access.
  3. Information Security
    You are responsible and accountable for all use and security of the electronic resources you own or use, including but not limited to computer account(s), passwords, personal computer(s), electronic data, and network access. You should make appropriate use of the software, system and network-provided protection features and take precautions against others obtaining access to your computer resources. You are responsible for the security of all NetIDs, accounts and passwords assigned for your use. Passwords must never be shared. You are expected to abide by the Georgetown University Information Security Policy.
  4. Shared Resources
    You may not encroach on another’s use of computer resources. Such activities would include, but are not limited to, tying up computer and network resources for illegally downloading or sharing music, movies, software or other files, or other non-University related applications; sending harassing messages; sending frivolous or excessive messages, including chain letters, junk mail, spam, and other types of broadcast messages, either locally or over the Internet; using excessive amounts of storage; launching attacks or probes, or otherwise attempting to subvert the security of any system or network at Georgetown University or on the Internet; intentionally or irresponsibly introducing any computer viruses, worms, Trojan Horses, spy ware, or other rogue programs to hardware, software, systems or networks at Georgetown University or on the Internet; or physically damaging systems.
  5. Intellectual Property
    You are responsible for making use of software and electronic materials in accordance with copyright and licensing restrictions and applicable university policies. You may not use Georgetown University networks, equipment and software to violate copyright or the terms of any license agreement. No one may inspect, modify, distribute, or copy proprietary data, directories, programs, files, disks or software without proper authorization.
  6. Publication
    You should remember that information you distribute through the University’s web or other computing and networking facilities is a form of publishing and many of the same standards apply. For example, any web publication attributed to Georgetown, even with disclaimers, represents you and the University and appropriate language, behavior and style is warranted.
  7. Personal Information
    You should be cautious about making information about yourself and others available on the Internet. The University cannot protect you from invasions of privacy, identity theft and other possible dangers that could result from the individual’s distribution of personal information.

Administration and implementation

While respecting confidentiality and privacy, the University reserves the right to examine all university owned and operated computer systems and electronic/digital resources.[4] The University takes this step to enforce its policies regarding harassment and the safety of individuals; to prevent unauthorized reproduction or distribution of proprietary software or digital texts, images (moving and still) or music; to safeguard the integrity of computers, networks, and data either at the University or elsewhere; and to protect the University against seriously damaging consequences.[5] The University may restrict the use of its computers and network systems for electronic communications when faced with evidence of violation of University policies, or federal or local laws. The University will comply with, and respond to, all validly issued legal process, including subpoenas. The University reserves the right to limit access to its networks through University-owned or other computers, and to remove or limit access to material posted or distributed on University-owned computers.

All members of the University community are bound by federal and local laws relating to civil rights, harassment, copyright, security and other statutes relating to electronic media. It should be understood that this policy does not preclude enforcement under the laws and regulations of the United States of America or the District of Columbia. All users are expected to conduct themselves consistent with these responsibilities and all other applicable University policies. Abuse of computing and/or network privileges will subject the user to disciplinary action, as established by the applicable operating policies and procedures of the University. Abuse of networks or computers at other sites through the use of Georgetown University resources will be treated as though it occurred at the University. When appropriate, restrictive actions will be taken by system or network administrators pending further disciplinary or legal action.

Resource(s) and Other Applicable Policies and Procedures


Adopted ad interim June 3, 1996
Modified: November 14, 1996
Approved by the Faculty Senate June 23, 1997


Revision begun: October, 2004
Reviewed by the Information Services Management Council
Reviewed and approved by University Counsel April 22, 2005
Reviewed and approved in principle by the Computing Services Advisory Committee May 12, 2005
Revised: June 22, 2005
Approved by the Vice President for Information Services and CIO and University Counsel, June 22, 2005
Approved by the Vice President for Student Affairs, October 7, 2005
Approved by the Faculty Senate, December 14, 2005


This policy will be periodically reviewed and updated as appropriate.


[1] Incidents may be reported to For more information on this and system and email protections, see “Resources” below.

[2] Employees who are Computer Systems and Network Administrators in the course of their jobs may be authorized to make changes to computing and network facilities. These responsibilities are well documented, understood and carefully supervised. All Systems and Network Administrators are bound by the “Guidelines for System and Network Administrators” and must follow the “Procedures in Support of the Computer Systems Acceptable Use Policy.” Users must coordinate and receive approval from an authorized University Information Service Provider before extending the network.

[3] In the event emergency access is needed, a user should contact the cognizant Systems and Network Administrator.

[4] There is further articulation of these responsibilities for Systems and Network Administrators in the “Guidelines for System and Network Administrators” and the “Procedures in Support of the Computer Systems Acceptable Use Policy.”

[5] Upon termination of a user’s relationship with the University, the University may find it necessary to examine such resources.