The Open University

The Open University Computing Code of Conduct

  1. Purpose of Use

    Computing and network resources are provided for you to do your job and/or for educational, training and research purposes. You must not use them for any commercial or significant personal purposes. Software or information we have provided may only be used as part of your duties as an employee or for educational purposes unless agreed otherwise. You agree to follow all the licensing agreements for software that we have entered into. If you are attaching equipment to our network, you must also comply with our connection policy, which is available from IT and at

  2. Registration

    Before you use our computing facilities, you need to be authorised by following our registration procedure. During registration, you will be given a username and password to use the university’s computing facilities. You must always use this username and password and nobody else's, when using our computing and network facilities.

    Your password must be in line with accepted good practice.
    For advice on suitable passwords please visit the Password Good Practice guide (please note this is an OU internal resource only).

  3. Responsibilities

    You are responsible for all activities carried out under your username. You must not give your password to anyone else or store it on another computer system. While you are using our systems, you should not leave your computer unless you can be sure that nobody else can use it while you are away, for example, you have a password-protected screen saver or you can lock the door behind you.

    You must not jeopardise the integrity, performance or reliability of computers, networks, software and other stored information. In this code, ‘software’ includes programs, routines, procedures and their associated documentation, which can be used on a computer system, including personal computers and workstations. The integrity of our computer systems is jeopardised if you do not take enough precautions against malicious software (for example, computer virus programs).

    In the course of your work, you may work with, or have access to, confidential or personal information. You must do nothing to threaten the security of such information. In particular, you may only copy such information to a portable device if it has adequate security protection. Further advice is available from IT via the Data Security Guidance for Staff document (please note this is an internal resource only.

    Just because you are able to do something, does not mean that it is acceptable. Existing standards of behaviour apply to computer-based information technology in the same way that they apply to more traditional media. Examining all the files on your colleague’s hard disk is the same as examining their filing cabinet, and trying to find unprotected files on a multi-user system falls into a similar category. For specific services, we may provide more detailed guidelines.

    You must not interfere with, or try to interfere with, information that belongs to another user. Similarly, you must not make unauthorised copies of information belonging to another user.

    Any software or hard copy of data or information that you have not provided or generated, and which may become available by using computing or communications resources, must not be copied or used without permission.

    You must not infringe any copyright in software or other materials.

    You must not use any University computing or network resources provided for University use to publish material that is obscene, libellous or defamatory, or breaks our code of practice concerning harassment. You are personally responsible for your contributions to any computing system when using University equipment or username.

    You must not do anything that damages our reputation.

    You may only use approved University links to other computing facilities that you are authorised to use. When using external facilities, you must also follow their rules or code of conduct together with the JANET Acceptable Use Policy

  4. Monitoring

    In exceptional circumstances, we may have to access your email, voice mail or other communications to carry out our work or meet our legal obligations. Each action must be authorised by a senior University officer and the user must be told unless a serious breach of conduct is suspected and on these occasions the individual will not be notified.

    Staff who are authorised to reveal data (in storage or transit) must follow strict ethical standards as a condition of their employment. They must only reveal data that is absolutely necessary.

  5. Breaches of the Policy

    Any breach of the Computing Code of Conduct will result in disciplinary action which may include dismissal.

Revised July 2010

Approved by the University Secretary