February 20, 2019
A revised University of Michigan policy on internet access allows the blocking of websites that may contain offensive or pornographic content, in limited circumstances.
The policy, Standard Practice Guide 601.16: Electronic Access to Potentially Offensive Materials, was updated Feb. 12.
According to the SPG, “Individuals should not be unwittingly exposed to offensive material by the deliberate and knowing acts of others. The university is a community of individuals with diverse values, beliefs, and sensitivities. Individuals must be allowed to choose what they wish to access for their own purposes.”
The policy goes on to say, “There are some contexts — for example, childcare centers, Michigan Medicine sites, and summer camp programs — where unfettered access to university information technology may be inappropriate, inconsistent with safety or mission, or both.”
These limits to legal website access has been implemented by Michigan Medicine in clinical areas. Blocking access to adult websites is consistent with the approach of other health care systems.
University leaders have indicated that limiting access to information on the U-M network for the entire campus is incompatible with the goals of an institution of higher education.
“Freedom of expression and an open environment for sharing information are valued, encouraged, supported and protected at the University of Michigan,” according to the policy.
Illegal material from any source will not be tolerated. Anyone determined to be accessing websites containing illegal content, such as child pornography, will be immediately reported to police.
The Michigan Medicine decision was developed in consultation with a Medical School faculty leadership group on ways to consistently maintain safe and professional patient-care environments. Michigan Medicine also provides exceptions for any unintended restrictions that might impede professional activities.