November 3, 2006

elevate: Answering the Tough Questions

Featured Image

Medical Center leadership answers the tough questions about what the elevate program is and what it means for the people who work at VUMC.

Question: Since Vanderbilt owns the computer accounts that I use at work, I have sometimes wondered whether the University has someone looking at my e-mail or monitoring my Web use.

Answer: First, a reminder: e-mail messages are more like postcards than letters. Please keep in mind that e-mail was never designed to be confidential.

University policy states that computer account activity may be monitored without notice if there is reason to believe that monitoring will uncover violation of the law or Vanderbilt policy or other threats to the integrity, function or resources of the University. (See the electronic communications policy, HR-025, posted on the HR Web site.)

While the University has never routinely monitored Web use, if your supervisor were to suspect you of inappropriate use of the network, he or she may, under this policy, request that your activity be monitored. Any monitoring under this policy requires approval from the appropriate general officer; in the case of the Medical Center, approval would come from Harry Jacobson, M.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs, or his designee.

While maintaining an e-mail server or an individual e-mail account, technicians who administer e-mail may inadvertently see employee messages. (Only the e-mail team has routine administrative access to VUMC's e-mail system.)

Vanderbilt does routine automated checks of incoming e-mail in efforts to filter out spam and prevent exposure to computer viruses.

— Mark Johnson, Vanderbilt chief information security officer