IT Offensive Materials Policy


This policy applies to all members of the University community whether at the University or elsewhere, and refers to all IT resources.


The University embraces the principle of academic freedom and is committed to meeting its obligations under section 161 of the Education Act 1989. Freedom of expression and an open environment for sharing information are protected, valued, encouraged, and supported at the University.

However, individual freedom comes with responsibility to other members of the community. This policy and its supporting guidelines outline the University’s position on access to potentially offensive material. It defines the responsibilities of all IT users:

  • to support open access to information and
  • to protect all members of the University community against being exposed to materials that they may find offensive


1. The University is comprised of a community of individuals with diverse values, beliefs, and sensitivities. As a general rule, individuals should be free to choose what information they wish to access for their own purposes.

2. Members of the University community must not, however, be exposed to offensive material by the deliberate and knowing acts of IT users.

3. IT users must take all reasonable steps to ensure that their actions do not expose members of the University community to potentially offensive materials.

4. Unlawful use of IT resources, including the viewing, downloading or uploading of objectionable material from any source is strictly prohibited.


The following definitions apply to this document:

Academic freedom as defined in Section 161 of the Education Act 1989.

IT resources refers to any University owned or operated hardware or software and the data that is used or stored on it.

IT user means any individual member of the University community using IT resources.

Objectionable material means objectionable material as defined in the Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act 1993 i.e. "a publication...(that) describes, depicts or expresses or otherwise deals with matters such as sex, horror, crime, cruelty or violence in such a manner that the availability of the publication is likely to be injurious to the public good".

University means the University of Auckland and includes all subsidiaries.

University community includes all staff members (whether permanent, temporary or part time), honorary staff, students (whether full time or part time), contractors, subcontractors, consultants, alumni, associates, business partners or official visitors or guests of members of the University or UniServices.

Key relevant documents

Document management and control

Owned by: Chief Digital Officer (CDO)
Prepared by: IT Risk and Strategy Manager
Approved by: The Vice-Chancellor
Date approved: January 2017
Review date: January 2022