Stands for "Acceptable Use Policy." An AUP is list of rules you must follow in order to use a website or Internet service. It is similar to a software license agreement (SLA), but is used specifically for Internet services.

Most well-known, high traffic websites include an AUP, which may also be called Terms of Service (TOS) or Terms of Use (TOU). You can often find a link to the to the website's AUP in the footer of the home page. Many web services, such as cloud applications require you to agree to an AUP in order to use the online service. ISPs often provide an AUP with each account, which states specific guidelines you must follow.

The specifics of an AUP vary depending on the service offered. Even website AUPs may differ greatly based on the purpose of the website and the website's content. However, most AUPs include a list of general dos and don'ts while using the service, such as the following:

  1. Do not violate any federal or state laws.
  2. Do not violate the rights of others.
  3. Do not distribute viruses or other malware.
  4. Do not try to gain access to an unauthorized area or account.
  5. Respect others' copyrights and intellectual property.
  6. Familiarize yourself with the usage guidelines and report violations.

An AUP serves as an agreement between the user and the company offering the online service. Some rules are basic netiquette, while others may have legal ramifications. If you fail to comply with a policy in a AUP, the company has the right to suspend or terminate your account or take legal action if necessary. Therefore, it is wise to familiarize yourself with the AUPs of the Internet services you use.

Updated January 16, 2014 by Per C.

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