Q&A About Maricopa's Technology Resource Standards

Who is considered an "authorized user" of Maricopa's technology resources?

That is determined at the location where Maricopa's technology resources are being used. Responsible individuals at a college, center or District location decide who is an authorized user, and the decision does not depend solely on whether the user is an employee or student. For example, certain college media centers allow members of the community who are neither students nor employees to have access to workstations, the Internet, and other technology resources. Those individuals would likely be considered authorized users, and would be subject to Maricopa's Technology Resource Standards.

Under Prohibited Conduct Number 3, a user may not install a program that might result in damage to a computer system. If a piece of software is compatible with hardware specifications or my computer's operating system, isn't that enough of a guarantee that the software won't damage the computer system?

Not necessarily. The mere fact that software might be compatible with a particular system does not eliminate the possibility of harm to existing files or applications. If a user has any doubt about the potential effect of installing new software on an existing system, an information technology specialist at the location should be consulted.

  1. Joe Joelson was responsible for publishing his department's information to the Maricopa web. He downloaded to his workstation a new desktop database application he had found on the Internet. This application would allow Joe to publish statistical information directly to his department's website. While installing the application, he was prompted also to install the web server component. The message indicated that Joe needed to do this in order to use the web-publishing feature, so he installed the web server on his workstation.

  2. One week later, Joe arrived at work and tried to log onto his workstation. There was no response. He called the Helpdesk, and a technician soon arrived and diagnosed the problem: a computer hacker from Iceland had gained access to Joe's workstation through the web server on his desktop. The hacker erased Joe's hard drive; installing the web server had resulted in damage to a Maricopa computer system.

Can I install my own software--which I want to use for work-related purposes--on my Maricopa computer?

Yes; personal software may be installed---subject to any license, copyright or similar restrictions imposed by the maker of the software--on Maricopa technology resources. However, any use of that software would be subject to the Technology Resource Standards, and limited to Maricopa educational, research, service, operational, and management purposes. In addition, it would be advisable for an employee to remove the personally-owned software from Maricopa technology resources when the software is no longer being used, or when the employee concludes employment with Maricopa. For these and other reasons, a technician at the site should be consulted before personal software is installed.

  1. Sarah Smithers is an expert in word-processing, spreadsheet, and database development, and was just hired to work in an information processing center at a Maricopa community college. At her previous job, Sarah had used the same suite of applications she now found on her new workstation at the college, but she really did not like their functionality. She preferred instead another software's application (which she owned personally). After she checked the license terms for the software she owned--to make sure that the license permitted her to use the applications on her computer at work--Sarah decided to come in early the next day and install those tools at her workstation.

  2. Sarah later noticed that her workstation had slowed considerably, and knew that it was due to the extra software she had installed. Soon, her computer response time slowed even more until, finally, Sarah's workstation froze. When she rebooted her machine and opened the word processing application to finish her last assignment for the day, the machine froze again. She rebooted once more, and this time the application would not open at all. The error message indicated: "Not enough memory available to open the application." In fact, Sarah could not open anything on her computer, including her finished work assignments.

  3. Sarah explained to a technician that she had installed her preferred software on the workstation; it was obvious to the technician that this was causing the machine to crash. While installing her personal software for Maricopa purposes was permissible, Sarah should have checked with a technician first to ensure that doing so would not damage the system or any data she had there.

Can I give the password for my e-mail account to a co-worker or supervisor in order that he or she can access messages while I'm on vacation?

Disclosing a password to a co-worker or supervisor for such a purpose would not necessarily violate the standards. The Standards make it the user's responsibility to keep a password confidential. Disclosing the password for a limited purpose (such as accessing messages during a vacation) to a colleague who will maintain the password's confidentiality would be permissible under the Standards.

In the distance learning class that I teach, I have students from all over the country. Are they subject to Maricopa's Technology Resource Standards?

By enrolling students in a distance learning offering, a college has deemed each of them an "authorized user," regardless of where the students reside. Those students should become familiar with the Standards.

I occasionally receive unsolicited e-mail, usually sent through "spamming." When I receive such e-mail, am I violating the standards?

A person who receives unsolicited e-mail--including a victim of "spamming"--typically has no more control over the receipt of such messages than one has over the receipt of junk mail at his or her residence. On the other hand, intentionally providing someone a Maricopa e-mail address for the purpose of receiving e-mail that is unrelated to Maricopa's educational, research, service, operational, and management purposes might violate the Standards.

I want to send an e-mail message to a co-worker, suggesting that the two of us meet for lunch; would that violate the Standards?

As with any policies or rules, the Technology Resource Standards should be applied in a reasonable manner. The Standards are based on the assumption that Maricopa technology resources exist for Maricopa purposes--namely, its "educational, research, service, operational, and management purposes." An occasional e-mail message to a co-worker suggesting a luncheon engagement, or something similarly innocuous, is not likely to be the sort of activity that would violate the Standards. Using technology resources for clearly personal--and non-Maricopa--purposes (such as, for example, maintaining an amorous relationship with a co-worker via e-mail) would be an improper use of those resources.

I am a Maricopa employee, and the author of a Maricopa individual website. In my off hours, I sell cleaning supplies, and have created a website advertising my cleaning supply business. Can I create, on my Maricopa website, a link to my own cleaning supply website?

Creating such a link would be use of Maricopa technology to "advertise personal services," and violate the Technology Resource Standards.

My instructor has arranged for the students in our class to participate in a chat room where all of us may exchange thoughts and ideas about what we are learning. All entries in the chat room are supposed to be anonymous--we are not to reveal our identities. Are we violating Prohibited Conduct number 13?

No. That provision of the Standards outlaws "using computing resources in such a way as to wrongfully hide the identity of the user or pose as another person." Since the chat room is intended to solicit anonymous contributions, and is essential to participating fully in the class, the conduct would not be wrongful.

  1. Allan Adams uses Bob Belinski's desktop computer while Bob is away on vacation. Allan is able to access Bob's e-mail account and--in Bob's absence--has sent several e-mail messages under Bob's name to all Maricopa employees. The messages contain derisive epithets about Allan and Bob's supervisor; Allan's intent was for recipients of these messages to think that Bob had sent them. Bob's conduct violated Prohibited Conduct number 13--using technology resources to wrongfully pose as another person.

The beauty of the Internet is that it makes information and images so readily accessible. If I can download information and images from a website, can't I use and distribute them as much as I want to?

Copyright and other legally-recognized rights protect images, music, essays and other means of expression on the Internet. The mere fact that something can be downloaded from the Internet does not by itself allow for its free use and distribution.

  1. Tom Tomeson was a child care assistant at a Maricopa child development center. He was responsible for creating the handouts for each day's educational activity. Tom wanted these to be special for the children attending the activities, so he logged onto the Internet to get some ideas. When he arrived at the Disney site, he saw lots of pictures of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Pluto that he knew the children would love to see. At another site he found some pictures of Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd. Tom downloaded some of the graphics, and used them in the handouts for the children. In doing so, however, Tom violated the copyright privileges the cartoon studios held in these characters.

Page Updated 01/05/05