11.14.2005 17:06

Appropriate-Use Policy Updated

I have reviewed and updated the department's Appropriate-Use Policy, which governs the usage of the department's computer resources.

The changes are not significant; they're more along the line of clarifying the existing text based on my actual experiences since drafting the original document (in late summer, 2002) in preparation for adding a second document that will spell out some additional requirements for users who want to use our Amber parallel cluster.

The change log is as follows:

First significant overhaul of the departmental appropriate-use policy.

Change format a bit to include use of lastpage.sty and svn.sty so that each page indicates where it fits in the complete document and contains the date of last revision.

Make various minor typographical, spelling, and terminological fixes.

Clarify the definition of faculty sponsor to indicate that such an individual must be a member of the mathematics department or the department's systems administrator (which allows, for example, CS faculty who have students who need to use the Amber cluster to authorize those students to do so).

Emphasize that leaving files with permissions wide open does not mean that those files can be changed without direct permission from the owner.

Broaden the harassment policy to include other potential media beyond those listed.

Add a section on installation of software by users. This section formalizes our ``ask us to install X if you think it would be useful'' policy.

Expand the discussion of disk-space usage to give additional guidance on determining appropriate amounts of usage for an individual, to authorize temporary large uses when the material will be removed prior to backups running, and to encourage users to discuss their disk-space needs with the systems-administration staff.

Tweak licensed software section to make it flow better.

Clarify that account revocation could be permanent.

Add the additional stick of law-enforcement involvement in extreme situations.

Add questions and comments section, with the systems-administration staff's e-mail address.

Please feel free to take a look at the actual document to see what's changed for yourself. If you've never bothered to read the AUP, now might be a good time to see what you agreed to when you signed your account-request form.

I would maintain that the core of the document is ``Be nice to other people''.

I have also updated the department's computing-policy web pages as part of this effort.

Posted by Claire Connelly | Permalink | Categories: System Policy

11.14.2005 09:29

National Security Letters and You

You may not be aware of the FBI's increasing use of "National Security Letters" to obtain information about the activities of people that they believe -- for whatever reason -- to be "of interest".

These letters instruct recipients to turn over requested information to the FBI without consultation with a lawyer or their employers. If I were to receive such a letter, anything that you might have stored on departmental computer systems could be made available to the FBI -- that includes any files in your home directory, electronic mail, the contents of your web browser's cache, hits on your website -- anything I have access to. Which means anything on the department's systems.

I encourage you to not place me in the position of being able to turn anything over should I be requested to do so. If you have potentially controversial material you would like to share on the web, want to have a weblog where you criticize the U.S. government, or even send e-mail back and forth with others who might be in some way "suspicious", you might want to consider using another Internet site to do so.

Not, mind you, that you'll be safer there -- if you do things that attract government attention, the FBI can just as easily send a National Security Letter requesting information to your off-campus ISP and get the information from them.

For more information about National Security Letters and their use by the government, I would encourage you to check out the ACLU's page on NSLs.

Consider using encryption and anonymizers for your e-mail and web surfing.

You might also want to share your opinions on the U.S.A. P.A.T.R.I.O.T. act and the use of National Security Letters with your U.S. Senators and Congressional Representatives -- for the Claremont area, they are Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Congressman David Dreier (R-CA). You can use the tools provided by the Senate and the House to find senators and representatives for your home town if you're not registered to vote in Claremont or if you'd like to communicate with the people who represent your home town as well.

Posted by Claire Connelly | Permalink | Categories: News, System Policy

2002 Sep 14 10:57 AM

Account Policy Changes

The department has a new appropriate use policy, based on the CIS AUP. Please read it and be aware of its conditions.

We also have a new account-request procedure, described on the account-policy page.

Briefly, you need to read the AUP (PDF), fill out an account-request form (PDF), have it signed, and turn it in to the systems administrator for processing. Easy!

Posted by C.M. Connelly | Permalink | Categories: System Policy

New Machine-Naming Scheme

You may notice some machines in the cluster or Clinic lab with names you don't recognize. New machines are now named after characters from Terry Pratchett's ``Discworld'' series of novels. There are currently more than twenty books set in the Discworld, so we should have a good stock of names available.

Posted by C.M. Connelly | Permalink | Categories: System Maintenance, System Policy