What you don’t know can hurt you

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Laura Rosenzweig
  • Office of the Staff Judge Advocate
It is very easy to engage in unauthorized use of your government computer, sometimes without even realizing it. This is just a quick reminder of what you are can and cannot do while using your government computer.

You are authorized to use your government computer, including issued laptops, for official use and authorized purposes only. Any other use could result in administrative or disciplinary actions under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

We all get forwarded e-mails such as chain letters or jokes on our government computers, but reading and forwarding them to others could be considered unauthorized use. Individuals are not allowed to send harassing, abusive, obscene or offensive material to anyone. The only personal e-mail account that may be accessed on a government computer is "GI Mail," which can be accessed through the Air Force Portal. There really is no excuse for using government e-mail to transmit unofficial information.

Personal use of your government computer and e-mail account is allowed under certain circumstances. Some instances include sending travel itineraries to family members or letting family members know about important appointments. Using the Internet to search for a job is authorized only when separating or retiring from the Armed Forces.

There are many firewalls in place that prevent visiting unauthorized sites. However, if you do access an unauthorized site, exit the site immediately because you will still be held accountable for viewing inappropriate or unauthorized material. Members are not allowed to store, display, send or otherwise transmit offensive or obscene language or material. Offensive material includes, but is not limited to, "hate literature" such as racist literature, materials or symbols; sexually harassing materials, pornography and other sexually explicit materials.

This does not encompass everything that you may or may not do regarding the use of your government computer and e-mail systems. If you are unsure, look it up in Air Force Instruction 33-229, Web Management and Internet Use, and AFI 33-119, Air Force Messaging. Minor violations of these regulations, such as forwarding inappropriate material through e-mail or viewing inappropriate images like pornography, could result in discipline ranging from a letter of counseling or letter of reprimand to punishment under Article 15, UCMJ. Severe violations, such as viewing child pornography on your government computer, could result in a trial by court-martial.