One West University Boulevard, Brownsville, Texas 78520 | 956-882-8200

Electronic Mail Policy

INTRODUCTION:

Under the provisions of the Information Resources Management Act, information resources are strategic assets of the State of Texas that must be managed as valuable state resources. Thus this policy is established to achieve the following:

  • To ensure compliance with applicable statutes, regulations, and mandates regarding the management of information resources.
  • To establish prudent and acceptable practices regarding the use of email.
  • To educate individuals using email with respect to their responsibilities associated with such use.

DEFINITIONS:

Electronic mail system - A computer software application that allows electronic messages to be communicated from one computer to another. 

Electronic mail (email)- Any message, form, attachment, or other communication sent, received, or stored within an electronic mail system.

PURPOSE:

Electronic mail systems and services are provided by The University of Texas at Brownsville/Texas Southmost College for the purpose of enhancing productivity and maintaining effective communications in support of the missions of The University of Texas at Brownsville/Texas Southmost College.

PRIVACY:

Electronic mail sent, received, or stored on computers owned, leased, or administered by The University of Texas at Brownsville/Texas Southmost Collage is not private.  Electronic mail content may be accessed by appropriate personnel in accordance with the provisions and safeguards provided in Business Procedures Memorandum 53-02-96 - Policy for the Use and Protection of Information Resources (UTS165).  Saved messages must not be encrypted.  Encryption is permitted, and encouraged where appropriate, during transmission of messages.

PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES:

The following activities are prohibited by policy:

  • Do not send email that is intimidating or harassing. 
  • Do not use email for conducting a personal business.
  • Do not use email for purposes of political lobbying or campaigning.
  • Do not violate copyright laws by inappropriately distributing protected works.
  • Do not access another employee's email without that employee's consent unless doing so in accordance with Business Procedures Memorandum 53-02-96 - Policy for the Use and Protection of Information Resources (UTS165), or other established policy or law.
  • Do not pose as anyone other than oneself when sending email, except when authorized to send messages for another when serving in an administrative support role.

The following activities are prohibited because they impede the functioning of network communications and the efficient operations of electronic mail systems:

  • Do not send or forward chain letters.
  • Do not send unsolicited messages to large groups except as required to conduct university business.
  • Do not send excessively large messages. 
  • Do not send or forward email that is likely to contain computer viruses.

Prohibited activities identified in this section are not all inclusive.  The University of Texas at Brownsville/Texas Southmost Collage electronic mail must never be used in a manner that violates U. T. System policy, state law or federal law. 

In accordance with Business Procedures Memorandum 53-02-96 - Policy for the Use and Protection of Information Resources (UTS165), appropriate disciplinary action will be taken for misuse of The University of Texas at Brownsville/Texas Southmost Collage information resources, including electronic mail systems.

SPAM:

Unsolicited Commercial Email or "Spam" is not permitted by state law.

http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/data/docmodel/78r/billtext/pdf/HB01282F.PDF

Spam is defined as unsolicited E-mail, often of a commercial nature, sent indiscriminately to a large number of addresses including multiple mailing lists, individuals, or newsgroups; junk e-mail; Unsolicited Commercial Email (UCE). Spam has been shown to carry viruses, malicious code, or other means to damage data and IT resources. Texas and other states have enacted laws against spam. The number of such messages has surged in recent years, causing annoyance to recipients, performance problems for networks and systems, and problems for law enforcement.

  • UCE sent from or to the university is not considered a protected form or expression of free speech and is handled as follows:
  • UCE found to originate from within the university constitutes violation of this policy and will be dealt with according to university policy and procedures.
  • UCE found to originate from a site outside the university, and impacting or posing a threat to the availability and operation of university IT resources will be blocked. The spammer will be notified once to cease and desist before the site is blocked. Due to the large number of UCE messages, their proliferation, the practices used by those who transmit these messages, methods used to block, and limited resources, the university is unable to successfully block all spam.

Users can take additional measures with respect to spam including:

  • Ignoring and deleting messages they consider spam.
  • Not using the "unsubscribe" function on a spam message to be  removed from the mail list. While reputable organizations will remove the requestor's name from their lists at your request, most mass mailers have been known to use the "unsubscribe" function as a means of confirming the validity of the email address. Valid email addresses are often sold or traded to other spammers resulting in more, rather than less spam messages.
  • Filtering the e-mail so the offending mail is filed unread in a junk mail file, allowing a user to delete it as they desire, or even have it deleted automatically.

Specific questions about filtering can be addressed to the Information Resources Help Desk. Repeated incidents involving offensive e-mail may become harassment.

If you feel this is occurring, write abuse@utb.edu. If you feel threatened, call UTB/TSC Police, 544-8233.

INCIDENTAL USE:

As a convenience to employees, incidental use of electronic mail is allowed.  The following restrictions apply:

Incidental personal use of The University of Texas at Brownsville/Texas Southmost College provided electronic mail is restricted to UTB/TSC employees; it does not extend to family members or friends.

  • Incidental use must not result in direct costs to The University of Texas System.
  • Incidental use must not interfere with the normal performance of an employee's work duties.
  • No personal messages should be sent or saved that may cause embarrassment to The University of Texas System.
  • No personal messages should be sent, read, or saved that have high likelihood to expose University computer systems to computer viruses or other harmful programs. 
  • Abuse of incidental use privileges may result in disciplinary action in accordance with provisions Business Procedures Memorandum 53-02-96 - Policy for the Use and Protection of Information Resources (UTS165)

All messages - including personal messages - are owned by The University of Texas at Brownsville/Texas Southmost Collage , may be subject to open records requests, and may be accessed in accordance with this policy and Business Procedures Memorandum 53-02-96 - Policy for the Use and Protection of Information Resources (UTS165)

RECORDS RETENTION:

Electronic mail is subject to the same records retention rules that apply to other documents and must be retained in accordance with departmental records retention schedules.  The following guidelines apply:

  • The retention requirement associated with any document is determined by its content, not the method of delivery.  Each UTB/TSC department has a records retention schedule that specifies the retention period to be applied to various documents.
  • The responsibility of retaining an internally created and distributed document (or message) most often falls on the author - not the recipients.  Recipients may delete such received messages when their use has been fulfilled.
  • Employees who receive messages from outside the UTB/TSC are responsible for proper records retention of those messages.  
  • Most casual email messages are "transitory records" and can be discarded as their purpose is served.   
  • For records retention purposes, electronic mail that is digitally signed must be filed electronically rather than on paper if the signature is of importance to the legal status or business usefulness of the document. 
  • Email that has been requested in a subpoena or public information request must be retained until the request has been addressed, even if the retention period has expired.

ELECTRONIC MAIL BACKUP AND RECOVERY:

Information Resources creates electronic mail backup tapes daily (Monday through Friday) solely for the purpose of restoring the entire electronic mail system in the event of disaster.  Backup tapes do not allow for restoration of individual mailboxes and cannot be used as a convenience to retrieve "deleted" messages. 

Backup tapes do not serve a records retention function.  Each UTB/TSC department must make provisions to retain documents and messages in accordance with their departmental records retention policy.

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