Acceptable use policy

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An acceptable use policy (AUP; also sometimes acceptable usage policy or Fair Use Policy) is a set of rules applied by the owner/manager of a network, website or large computer system that restrict the ways in which the network site or system may be used. AUP documents are written for corporations,[1] businesses, universities,[2] schools,[3] internet service providers,[4] and website owners[5] often to reduce the potential for legal action that may be taken by a user, and often with little prospect of enforcement.

Acceptable Use Policies are an integral part of the framework of information security policies; it is often common practice to ask new members of an organization to sign an AUP before they are given access to its information systems. For this reason, an AUP must be concise and clear, while at the same time covering the most important points about what users are, and are not, allowed to do with the IT systems of an organization. It should refer users to the more comprehensive security policy where relevant. It should also, and very notably, define what sanctions will be applied if a user breaks the AUP. Compliance with this policy should, as usual, be measured by regular audits.

Contents

Terminology

AUP documents are similar to and often doing the same job as a document labelled Terms of Service for example, as used by Google Gmail and Yahoo!, although not in every instance, as in the case of IBM.com where the Terms of Use is about the way in which IBM presents the site for you, and how they will interact with you using the site with little to no instruction as to how you, the user, will use the site.

In some cases, AUP documents are named Internet and E-mail policy, Internet AUP, or Network AUP and also Acceptable IT Use Policy. These documents, even though named differently, largely provide policy statements as to what behaviour is acceptable from users of the local network/Internet connected via the local network.

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