SHARCNET Acceptable Use Policy, Guidelines and Principles

(Approved by the SHARCNET Board on June 27, 2008)

Guiding Principles

  1. SHARCNET is a private consortium governed, and its members bound, by an Operating Agreement signed by all member institutions.  The content, application and enforcement of this policy are governed by that agreement. Under the provisions of the Operating Agreement, in cases in which this policy may conflict with the corresponding policy of a member institution, this policy will prevail. All users of SHARCNET facilities, whether members of the SHARCNET consortium or not, agree to be governed by this policy and the attendant guidelines and principles.
  2. SHARCNET has established an infrastructure to enable research by users at its member institutions and by other authorized individuals. This infrastructure (the "facilities") includes, but is not limited to, resources and equipment for computing, visualization, networking and collaboration.
  3. The facilities are provided to enable and further research using high-performance computing (HPC) and are not intended as a replacement for a researcher's desktop or lab machines, nor to supplement a member institution's computational capacity for administrative applications.
  4. Access to the facilities is freely and equally available to all SHARCNET users in accordance with the policies and procedures established by SHARCNET for approval of faculty members, or those persons with faculty-equivalent status, together with those persons who are sponsored by faculty as authorized in that regard, and where appropriate, as approved by SHARCNET directly. Access is also subject to policies regulating appropriate use of specific types of equipment or resources.

SHARCNET's Rights and Responsibilities

  1. To allocate the use of and access to SHARCNET's facilities, having regard to priority for academic research initiatives.
  2. To revoke user accounts and deny access to any user for violation, attempted violation or alleged violation of any element of this policy.
  3. Where just cause is present, to act upon complaints in a reasonable manner appropriate in the circumstances and in the best interests of the consortium.
  4. To inform SHARCNET users from time to time of their rights and responsibilities in the use of SHARCNET facilities and to communicate clearly the terms and conditions under which access to and use of such resources and facilities are provided.  All such communications will be posted on the SHARCNET website at or communicated to users using the email addresses registered with SHARCNET.
  5. To ensure reasonable safeguards are in place to protect the privacy of SHARCNET users, provided that neither SHARCNET as a consortium or any of its member institutions individually are, nor shall they be held, liable for any loss of information or damages arising from any breach or violation of privacy.
  6. To use commercially reasonable efforts to cause SHARCNET facilities to be secure, which efforts may involve, but not be limited to, scanning systems for security threats and loopholes and testing for insecure passwords. This activity may require accessing user files or data.
  7. To monitor performance of user jobs to ensure effective use of SHARCNET facilities and to guard against abuse of SHARCNET resources. The outcome of such monitoring may result in SHARCNET contacting a user to improve and/or modify performance and use of SHARCNET systems and resources.  SHARCNET will use appropriate standards to maintain the privacy and confidentiality of the user's data.
  8. To provide material via the website and otherwise to help users make optimal use of the facilities. SHARCNET will endeavour to cause that the content of such material as provided is accurate but does not guarantee nor give any warranties or representations with respect to such content or its fitness for a particular application.
  9. To make reasonable efforts to ensure that the SHARCNET facilities are maintained and operated to a level to serve the requirements of users and the purposes of the facilities.

User's Rights and Responsibilities

  1. To use a SHARCNET account only with proper authorization. Any attempt by a user to misrepresent identity as that of another user, including using or sharing another's account, is expressly prohibited, as is any deliberate attempt to discover or alter another user's password or access key.  Any of the foregoing conduct may cause immediate cancellation of the account(s).
  2. To keep passwords, or other methods of secure access, private and to ensure that the chosen passwords or keys are reasonably secure, and not to share a password or key with any other third party or user. Failure of a user to maintain adequate protection for the password, or other means of secure access, or for the account or data may result in the account being cancelled.
  3. To ensure that a valid licence or letter of permission is held by the user prior to installing or using commercial software on any SHARCNET system. A list of commercial software licenced by SHARCNET together with conditions of use is posted on the SHARCNET website.
  4. Although users have a presumption of privacy in the use of the computing resources assigned to them, they should also be aware that certain information, such as login data and job statistics, is gathered routinely by SHARCNET.
  5. To use computing, visualization and networking resources in a proper and efficient manner that does not interfere with or impair the work of other users and to use only those resources assigned to her/him by SHARCNET. Any attempt to circumvent procedures and systems established by SHARCNET in order to monopolize the facilities or resources is not permitted, and may result in immediate cancellation of the user's account.
  6. To be accountable for the use of any computing and network resources consumed by the user or the accounts the user sponsors. This includes reporting publications resulting from research conducted on SHARCNET facilities, providing appropriate written descriptions of the use of the facilities and acknowledging such use in publications and reports.
  7. To use the facilities to store only data directly related to the research being undertaken by the user on the facilities. SHARCNET facilities are not to be used for storing email, personal information or similar information, or as backup of other systems and files, nor for any commercial purposes unless approved in writing.
  8. To use the SHARCNET facilities that match the characteristics of the user's requirements to ensure effective use. Users should avoid unreasonably wasteful practices such as running duplicate copies of applications or storing multiple copies of large datasets.
  9. To seek permission from SHARCNET in advance for use of SHARCNET facilities beyond a user's standard allocation.
  10. To refrain from gaining access to, copying or circumventing any data protection schemes of any data that is not public, or the files, directories or data of another user without clear authorization from the other user, or attempting to access or copy such data or circumvent such protections.
  11. To refrain from interfering or attempting to interfere with the normal operation of SHARCNET's facilities. Users must not subvert or attempt to subvert the security of any of SHARCNET's facilities or to exploit or attempt to exploit security loopholes.
  12. To refrain from any attempt to damage software or equipment.
  13. To refrain from using SHARCNET's computers, resources or equipment to attempt to interfere with, or gain unauthorized access to, any other computer or networked resource.
  14. SHARCNET's facilities may not be used for illegal, immoral or unethical purposes and it is expressly agreed by the user that unauthorized copying of copyrighted software, use or execution of illegally copied software or storing of unauthorized copyrighted material on SHARCNET's facilities is prohibited. The collection, transmission, use or storage of any material in violation of any federal or provincial statute or the rights of a third party is prohibited.
  15. The use of the facilities for business or financial gain is prohibited unless approved in writing.  The use of the facilities for political purposes is strictly prohibited.
  16. No user shall engage in harassment of any other user as the result of that user's utilization of SHARCNET facilities, nor will any user engage in any conduct or activity that is offensive, illegal, immoral or in contravention of public policy.
  17. To report immediately to SHARCNET any violation, attempted violations or alleged violations of the principles and guidelines of this policy.

The following points are in addition to those above and detail the policies and procedures that SHARCNET will apply to data stored on and the use made of SHARCNET facilities.

  1. By default, users' files are readable by only those users in the same research group, where a "research group" consists of a faculty member together with her/his sponsored users. SHARCNET's presumption is that users in the same research group would expect to share data in this way. Users can change the default by modifying the appropriate system variable. Users are expected to understand the meaning of file permissions on the SHARCNET systems that they use and the means whereby they can be changed. SHARCNET is not responsible for any misunderstandings of this policy or misapplication of user data, and each user accepts these limitations.
  2. SHARCNET staff will monitor disc usage including file names, sizes and organization. Generally SHARCNET staff will not look at the contents of files unless requested by the user, but may perform checks to ensure the storage is being used efficiently. (i.e., data that can be compressed is in fact compressed).
  3. SHARCNET will make reasonable efforts to protect the integrity and security of user data but cannot guarantee either. It is acknowledged by any user of the facilities that no security beyond standard user-level Unix security is employed by default. Use of shared systems with this type of security and a large number of users implies acceptance of risk. Data integrity is dependent upon hardware reliability, maintenance and operation and SHARCNET makes no representations or warranties in this regard.
  4. Sensitive information should not be kept on SHARCNET systems without prior special arrangements.  Notwithstanding any storage of sensitive data, the provisions under Section 39 in connection with this provision apply.
  5. SHARCNET will monitor the jobs executed by each user on SHARCNET resources. This includes the total number, resource requirements, commands executed and parameters used.
  6. In the event that a user cannot be contacted or is unresponsive after reasonable attempts at contact by SHARCNET at the address provided, or if the account is abandoned, the user account may be closed. The data residing in that account will be aggregated and made available to that user's sponsor upon written request of the sponsor, and any user consents to such transmission. If the user is a sponsor, the data will be aggregated and stored by SHARCNET to the best of its ability for a period not to exceed 1 year, and then deleted.
  7. In the event of a dispute between a sponsor and sponsored user, SHARCNET will require written authorization from an acceptable authority at the sponsor's place of employment detailing the action to be taken regarding the data. In this event, SHARCNET reserves the right to close the affected user's account(s) and to move, archive, compress or delete data in accordance with this policy.
  8. SHARCNET will release data to an appropriate authority where required to do so under any law, order or judicial decree.
  9. SHARCNET shall not be liable to any user [nor to any sponsor] for any loss of data or damages accruing from the release, compression or deletion of data in any account closed, abandoned or transferred in accordance with this policy.
Last updated: July 21, 2008