The University Record, January 11, 1993

Computer communications policies up for review

By Jane R. Elgass

The rapid growth of computer communication at the University has prompted Provost Gilbert R. Whitaker Jr. to request a review of the policy and support issues inherent in the "electronic community."

Whitaker has asked the Information Technology Policy Committee (ITPC) to consider issues related to proper use, privacy, confidentiality, freedom of speech, systems security and financial support and report to him with recommendations by May 1.

The nine ITPC members represent the campus as a whole in planning for and implementing information technology. The group discusses and proposes solutions for issues relating to information technology and recommends Universitywide policies and strategic directions to the Executive Computing Committee (ECC). The ECC is comprised of Whitaker, Vice President for Research William C. Kelly and Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Farris W. Womack.

The ITPC normally is chaired by Douglas E. Van Houweling, vice provost for information technology. He will step aside for this special review in favor of a faculty chair.

Whitaker notes in his charge to the committee that he and Van Houweling "believe it would be helpful if this effort is led by a faculty member who is not involved in the direct provision of information technology services to the University. We have agreed, therefore, that for the next few months, Doug will step aside as ITPC chair and that the ITPC will be reconstituted as a special committee to consider these issues."

Stephen M. Pollock, professor of industrial and operations engineering, will chair the special committee.

Among the issues Whitaker has asked the group to consider are:

---The role of conferencing in the University's research, teaching and social activities, especially the propriety of access to and funding of private conferences for social purposes.

---Existing use policies for ITD services, including Conditions of Use and Proper Use Guidelines, as well as the mechanisms used to communicate and enforce those policies.

---Computer access to materials that may be illegal or may violate individual and community standards of expression, such as child pornography on USENet, and the funding of such access.

---Security and privacy of electronic communication: Are the University units that support such communication observing appropriate policies and practices to safeguard the communications? Is the community adequately informed of the limits to security and privacy of computer-assisted communication?

---Overall management policies in ITD: Are there appropriate policies in place and are they being appropriately administered with respect to access to computer resources? Are the relationships with external consultants and service providers appropriate?

ITPC members are Daniel E. Atkins, dean of the School of Information and Library Studies; Deborah J. Oakley, professor of nursing; and Ctirad Uher, professor of physics and LS&A associate dean of research and facilities, as representatives of the schools and colleges. Robert W. Moenart, controller and director of financial operations, and Mary Ann P. Swain, associate vice president for academic affairs, represent large institutional and student systems. Wendy P. Lougee, head of the Graduate Library, represents the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs. Paul R. Vegoda, U-M Hospitals chief information officer; Donald E. Riggs, dean of the University Library, and Van Houweling represent large, information-intense campus communities.

The group will meet Wednesday (Jan. 13) to determine how to structure itself for this special task and how to gather community input. Pollock also hopes to recruit a student to serve on the committee.

Virginia E. Rezmierski, assistant to the vice provost for information technology, provides staff support for the committee.