What does AUP stand for?

The acronym AUP stands for Acceptable Use Policy. This basically refers to a set of rules that a user must agree to adhere to prior to being able to access a product or service. AUP documents are written for various entities such as businesses, corporations, internet service providers, universities, website owners and schools. These documents are written to reduce the potential for legal action that the user may take and often times with small prospect of enforcement.
AUPs are usually signed by new members within an organization prior to them getting access to the organization’s information systems. Therefore an AUP has to be clear and succinct, while at the same time outlining the degree of user accessibility as it relates to the organization’s IT systems. The document should also detail penalties for breach of the AUP. Frequent audit checks need to also be done to ensure strict compliance. Most AUPs have a ‘consequences of violation’ clause which is handled in accordance with the user’s relationship with the organization.
Though an AUP may be some what similar to a Terms of Service document, that is used by Yahoo for example, it may not be so in all cases. The AUP provides conditions of behaviour whereas some sites do not primarily speak to user interaction.

Components of the AUP

AUP documents usually begin with the sponsoring organization’s statement of philosophy and the reason for the internet access to the organization’s network. AUPs detail the use of the internet or the network as well as the benefits to the entity that will be using it.
The code of conduct is the most vital part of the AUP document as this sets the tone for how the user will behave while using the network or internet. Disclaimers are also included and these are stated so as to free the organization from certain responsibility under unambiguous circumstances. Disclaimers can speak to the organization being free from any consequences that may arise from certain omissions or errors on the organization’s website.
A handbook for writing AUP documents identifies the following points as being relevant to include when writing said documents:

  • A statement that the AUP complies with the rules and regulations issued by the state and national telecommunication.
  • A statement relating to Fair Use Laws and other copyright regulations while accessing the internet.
  • A statement relating to the maintenance of personal safety and privacy when using the internet.

In enforcing an AUP document it should specify the applicable laws that govern its use. This becomes necessary if the organization wishes to change or add certain information within the AUP or if part of the AUP becomes void for whatever reason.

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