University of Surrey - Guildford

Code of Practice for the Publishing of Information in Electronic Format

1. Publishing information

It is possible to publish information in electronic format using electronic mailing lists, newsgroups, bulletin boards and information servers such as the World Wide Web. These and other information tools can be accessed using University computer systems and networks.

This code of practice governs the publishing of information in electronic format by staff and students of The University of Surrey and, in particular, the use of University computer facilities for publishing information.

The University of Surrey is committed to ensuring a working and learning environment in which all persons treat others with humanity and respect. Every student is expected to conduct himself/herself in a manner which will not discredit or harm the University or its members. Failure to maintain this standard shall constitute a breach of Regulations, and students may be reported to Senate by the Vice-Chancellor as described in Statute 5(5)(B), whether or not an offence under English law is involved. Staff are responsible for all information that they publish.

The University computer facilities should only be used for bona-fide educational use, except where other uses have been duly authorised by the University. These resources are shared by members of the University and users should refrain from acts that waste resources.

It is important that information systems are not misused by the sending or displaying of material, or publicising access to such material, which is offensive or illegal.

2. Legal framework

The attention of those who publish information in electronic format is drawn to various UK legislation which relates to computer use. These include:-

Computer Misuse Act (1990)

It is likely that any material which incites, encourages or enables others to gain unauthorised access to a computer system would be found illegal under the Act.

Copyright, Designs and Patents Act

In general, these various Acts require that the permission of the owner of the intellectual property MUST be sought before any use of it is made whatsoever. It should be noted that the University logo and title are the property of the University and they, together with University Departmental addresses, may only be used for official University documents.

Data Protection Act (1984)

This provides protection of data which is stored in a computer or other electronic information system, that relates to any living person. The permission of each data subject should be sought and obtained before any information, including photographs, relating to them is stored in the system.

Libel

Facts concerning individuals or organisations must be accurate and verifiable and views or opinions must not portray their subjects in any way which could damage their reputation.

Pornography

The display of pornographic or sexually explicit material, or publicising access to such material, is not allowed, irrespective of the legality of material in the country of origin.

Racial discrimination

Any material that either discriminates or encourages discrimination on racial or ethnic grounds, contravenes the Race Relations Act.

Sexual discrimination

Any material which discriminates against any person on the grounds of sex, gender and, in some instances, sexual orientation, or encourages such discrimination, contravenes the Equal Opportunities Act.

Advertising

If advertisements are placed then they must comply with the Code of Practice issued by the Advertising Standards Authority which requires that all advertisements should be "legal, decent, truthful and honest".

3. Publishing policy for the University

Staff/students who publish information relating to and on behalf of the university should ensure that they have obtained the requisite permission to do so, and that the information has been approved by their Head of Department.

It should be noted that while publishing on-line information offers enormous advantages, the same care in the management of data needs to be exercised, as is the case with conventional publishing. This includes:

  • care in writing and proofing
  • high standards of layout
  • inclusion of information on the author, university and date, as appropriate removal of out-of-date information

Editorial changes to documents in electronic format should only be made with the permission of the 'owner' of the document.

4. Security

Information published on the university World Wide Web can be accessed world-wide and copied very easily.

5. Failure to observe this code

Failure to observe this code of practice by either students or staff will be considered a serious matter by the University. Where University regulations are breached the University will invoke the appropriate disciplinary procedures.

The University of Surrey would like to acknowledge help received from guidelines produced by Cranfield University and Imperial College.


Drafted by Tom Crawshaw, Dean of Information Services. Version 1.0, 13 March 1995

For more information, email: information@surrey.ac.uk

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