Ethical principles for IT use at UNamur


The use of computer resources, in particular, but not only, networks such as the Internet, is a necessity for everyone at UNamur. For pedagogical, scientific and administrative reasons, all of us, staff members and students, use the facilities that computer resources provide. UNamur intends to give all its members access to these facilities in the framework of the needs linked to the functions they occupy, and thus expresses the confidence it places in them.

Thus, as far as the control of the use of information technology (IT) tools is concerned, UNamur respects the provisions of the law of 8-12-1992 on the protection of privacy with regard to the processing of personal data and of the CTC n° 81.

Through the ethical principles expressed in this document, UNamur intends to make its members aware of their responsibilities as users and actors of such resources and computer networks. In order to interpret and enforce such principles, UNamur creates a Commission of Ethics for the use of IT. This Commission is hereafter referred to as the "Ethics Commission".

Of course, these ethical principles do not exempt from the respect of the applicable legal [1] and contractual provisions, in particular those concerning privacy, intellectual property and computer crime. However, these principles constitute minimum rules of conduct, non-compliance with which may be sanctioned by the Board of Directors in accordance with the disciplinary procedures specific to the category to which the staff member belongs or, if the person in question is a student, by the Disciplinary Committee. In the same vein, Unamur recalls that even if the cost of the use of computer networks and the computer tool is not charged to the members of the institution, this cost is not zero and is borne by the community.

Finally, it should be noted that these ethical principles apply to any person using UNamur's computer resources, even occasionally.

Principle I: Fair use of information technology

  1. Hardware, software, network access, i.e. both the use of resources accessible via the network and the provision of Internet services (dialogue services, provision of information content, e-mail, discussion groups) must be used for the purposes for which these tools are intended: to improve at all levels the functioning of the institution in its teaching, research, administration and community service tasks.
  2. In particular, access rights to computer resources are personal and non-transferable. Insofar as these access rights are evidenced by a code, each person holding the code and subject to these principles shall take appropriate security measures to keep the code confidential. The use of the means of access by persons other than their holder shall in principle engage the responsibility of the latter. It is recalled that any negligence or carelessness in this respect may compromise the security of other members of the Institution.
  3. Any use of the network not in accordance with the security measures provided for presents a certain risk of unauthorised access. Members of the University Community are therefore advised to take additional security measures as prescribed by the University Computer Service (UCS).
  4. The use of e-mail is reserved for professional or educational purposes, as is the use of internal mail. Sparse and reasonable use will be made of simultaneous sending to numerous recipients.
  5. The user will ensure the integrity of the hardware and software. He/she shall use shared resources (workstation, processing time of a multi-programmed computer, means of transmitting information, etc.) as efficiently as possible, depending on the result to be achieved and avoiding degrading the service. The user shall comply with the directives of the manager of the system used (whether it be the faculty or interfaculty manager) and shall not hesitate to seek advice from him/her.
  6. Users of IT resources undertake to improve their own competence in all aspects of the use of the hardware, software and network provided by UNamur in order to avoid waste and to improve the security of the University's IT and information resources.

Additional specific principles for students when using IT resources

  1. Students must comply with the internal regulations of the applications they use, as well as with the specific directives of the manager or person in charge of these facilities.
  2. Students will not make any modifications to the equipment provided. In particular, no software may be installed, modified, replaced or removed without the permission of the local manager.

Principle II: Responsability for the UNamur image

  1. Certain uses of UNamur's computer resources produce information that is accessible outside the University via the external network, or disseminated via the network outside UNamur. The provision of such information, apart from the fact that it engages the responsibility of its authors, may not harm UNamur or the image expressed by the UNamur Charter.
  2. In particular, messages, statements, presentations, documents (including electronic documents and web pages) made available in this way engage the reputation of UNamur.
  3. In case of doubt in this respect, the "Ethics Commission" is consulted beforehand.
  4. Any person subject to this principle who makes content available to the public must identify himself or herself and provide an e-mail address by which he or she can be contacted.
  5. Except in exceptional cases that require examination by the "Ethics Commission", the use of UNamur's computer facilities for commercial purposes is prohibited.

Principle III: Respect for intellectual property

When using computer resources, each user must respect the rights of third parties with regard to the information or programmes used or accessed.

In particular, it is recalled that

  • copying software, except for security purposes, is always illegal unless a user agreement or licence has been obtained from the holder of the operating rights for this software. The authorisations provided for in these agreements must be strictly respected;
  • the distinctive signs, inventions and/or original creations are likely to be protected by intellectual property rights. Subject to legal exceptions, the use of such creations on the Internet presupposes that the holders of the economic and moral rights have obtained the rights and/or authorisations provided for by the law;
  • trademark law often protects the domain names of Internet sites;
  • databases are protected for the benefit of their creator in the European Union, if necessary by copyright or by a specific right;
  • the mentions relating to the author of the work, the holder of the rights and the digital identification of the work may not be removed or modified without the agreement of the author and/or the right holders.

Principle IV: Respect for persons and their privacy

  1. When using computer resources, persons subject to the ethical principles must refrain from disseminating within or outside UNamur any message that is illicit, immoral or that has the object or purpose of damaging the reputation of a third party. They undertake to ensure that the information transmitted is correct. The content and form of any message must comply with the rules of good manners and respect for others and for the interlocutors. Users shall respect the confidentiality of messages and information relating to or held by others. Thus, they shall not attempt to access the private information of other network users or to read or copy the files of others without their verbal or written authorisation. They shall refrain from any attempt to intercept private communications between users, whether these consist of e-mail or direct dialogue.
  2. UNamur shall set up a control system to prevent misuse. UNamur undertakes not to carry out any systematic, personalised a priori monitoring. Monitoring may only be carried out at the request of the judicial authorities or at the explicit and motivated request of the Vice-Rector.
  3. Each user has the right to know the nature of the information kept about his or her use of the computer resources. He/she shall be informed of the use made of this information.
  4. Individual data relating to the use of the systems are used in compliance with the law and with the deontological rules in force at UNamur. In particular, personal data are only kept to the extent strictly necessary for the proper management of the systems and the security of the network.
  5. UNamur ensures that only duly authorised persons within the institution (i.e. security managers within the SIU and IT correspondents) may access stored data on the basis of a reasoned decision taken by the Vice-Rector or with the explicit consent of the person concerned.
  6. When sending mail, users shall ensure as far as possible that their message does not contain any virus or malicious code. In the event that such a message is nevertheless sent, the user shall seek to notify, by appropriate means and as soon as possible, the internal or external recipients of the message as well as his IT correspondent. If possible, he/she will indicate how to prevent the damage that the virus could cause.

Principle V: The ethics commission

  1. An "Ethics Commission" is established within UNamur. This Commission is appointed by the Board of Directors and reports to it on its mission.
  2. The "Ethics Commission" consists of eight members. The following are ex officio members of the Commission: the Director of the University Informatics Service; the Director of the External Relations Service; the Director of the Rectorate Studies Service; the web manager; the person responsible for the security of the computer network. The other three members of the Commission are appointed by the Administrative Board for a four-year term: one as a representative of Orientation A; the second as a representative of Orientation B; and the third as an expert lawyer. For these three mandates, it is foreseen to appoint, in addition, an alternate member. The chairmanship is held by one of the ex officio members appointed by the Management Board on the proposal of the Commission. The term of office of the President may be renewed twice at the most. In the event of resignation or vacancy, the persons concerned shall be replaced within three months of their departure from the Commission, on the proposal of the President of the Commission. All members have the right to vote. Decisions are taken by a simple majority of those present. If a majority cannot be reached, the President shall have the casting vote.
  3. The Board of Directors entrusts the "Ethics Commission" with the following tasks
  • the updating of the present ethical principles, as well as their interpretation;
  • the dissemination of such documents to the members of the University Community, in particular through the creation of a website
  • monitoring UNamur's activities on the Web and ensuring that these activities do not violate the ethical principles;
  • advising and informing users, in particular by answering users' questions through the creation of an electronic mailbox
  • hearing any person or group wishing to meet with the Commission or to obtain information or opinions from it;
  • in the event of non-compliance with the principles, intervening if the Commission deems it necessary, particularly by requesting corrections;

Referral to the Board of Directors or the administrator in charge of student affairs, of any problems observed which would merit, where appropriate, a sanction under the disciplinary systems specific to the category to which the member of staff belongs or, if the person in question is a student, by the Disciplinary Committee.

1. When abuse is observed, the local administrator or the University IT Service (SIU) may temporarily deprive the user of access to one or more IT resources or remove or block access to content made available by the user in breach of ethical principles. The administrator or the SIU shall immediately inform the Commission and, depending on the case, the user's superior or the administrator in charge of student affairs.

2. The "Ethics Commission" consulted or thus informed shall give its opinion as soon as possible on the measures to be taken. Its opinion is confidential. It shall deal in particular with the seriousness of the breach and, where appropriate, shall be forwarded to the Board of Directors.

Last modification: 3 September 2002

[1] Law of 30 June 1994 on copyright, amended by the law of 31 August 1998 transposing into Belgian law the European Directive of 11 March 1996 on the legal protection of databases. (In French) Law of 28 November 2000 on computer crime.