Procedures for dealing with Infringments of Computer Regulations by Students
The Institute seeks to maximize the opportunities afforded by new information and communication technologies for learning and research. In affording these opportunities to its students, it also requires that they be used responsibly and legally. In particular, making material available via a computer which may be offensive, obscene or abusive is not acceptable and may well render the perpetrator liable under the law. The ability to undertake a particular action does not imply that it is acceptable.
2. SIGNIFICANT POLICIES ADOPTED BY THE DIT
Student Regulations Governing the Use of Computer Resources
The Institute has defined a set of student regulations governing the use of computer resources. These regulations specify that the Institute’s computer facilities and services should not be used to create, send, store, download or display material that could be considered offensive, abusive, threatening or defamatory. Furthermore, the regulations state that users must not attempt to gain access to resources or data for which they have not been specifically authorised nor should they deliberately or otherwise corrupt or destroy any software, data facilities or equipment accessible to them or introduce viruses to these resources.
Users are obliged to abide by these regulations, by the law, by the Data Protection Legislation, by the HEAnet Acceptable Usage Policy and by any additional regulations, as may be laid down from time to time, in relation to the proper usage of computer equipment and materials.
Policy on Preventing and Dealing with Harassment and Bullying
The Institute has already adopted a policy to promote an environment that is free of harassment (including sexual harassment) and bullying. This policy defines harassment " as any act or conduct which is unwelcome and offensive, humiliating or intimidating on a discriminatory ground including spoken words, gestures, or the production, display or circulation of written material or pictures."
3. PROMOTING THE INSTITUTE POLICIES
Educational and Preventative measures
It is a priority to promote an environment in which computing facilities are not used for offensive purposes. The policy on Preventing and Dealing with Harassment and Bullying is circulated to all staff and students, and posters about harassment are displayed in all Institute premises.
Training is available for Academic Staff, Support Staff and other relevant individuals to learn more about the Institute's policy and how to deal with infringements of the Student Regulations Governing the Use of Computer Resources.
4. ACADEMIC FREEDOM
The Institute's Mission Statement states that it aims to
"achieve an innovative, responsive, caring and flexible learning environment … while continuing to have regard to the technological, commercial, social and cultural needs of the community it serves"
Students must ensure that any access granted to them in respect of computer equipment or service is used solely by themselves and only for their designated course work or research. Should such course work or research require accessing or storing material that could be considered offensive or illegal then students must initially obtain permission from a Director or other Senior Staff member. Students are expected to exercise due discretion to ensure that the spirit of the DIT Student Regulations Governing the use of Computer Resources is not contravened. They should take great care also in such circumstances that the material is not displayed in a way that would offend others.
5. THE LEGAL POSITION ON PORNOGRAPHY
The Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998 makes it an offence to access, possess, distribute or show material which involves indecent photographs of children under the age of 17. (For the purposes of the law an electronic image which could be data stored on a computer disk is also regarded as a photograph).
There are common themes to computer pornography and often the acts described are themselves unlawful. These include incest, paedophilia, bestiality and sexual torture; material of this sort will routinely be referred to the Gardaí and cases of individuals accessing or transmitting this material will be treated very seriously.
Notwithstanding the legal position, the accessing, possession, distribution or showing of offensive material for purposes other than designated course work or research is still a clear breach of DIT Student Regulations and will be dealt with as such.
6. GENERAL PROCEDURE
Any student who is found to have transgressed the Regulations governing the use of computer facilities will be subject to disciplinary action which may result in suspension or expulsion from the Institute. A flow chart, with support notes, is attached showing the course of action which the Institute will take once a case has been reported.
Contact with the Gardaí will be the responsibility of the Director/Secretary Office. While the Gardaí are investigating the case, the Institute reserves the right to proceed with its own disciplinary procedures.
Flow Chart and Support Notes for Student Infringement of Computer Regulations ( Adobe Acrobat fomat).
I.T. Support Managers
Eoin Dunne Tel: 402 4604
Bridget Gleeson Tel: 402 3089