Certain US government websites (fpds.gov, sam.gov, among others) have a footer saying something along the lines

This is a U.S. General Services Administration Federal Government computer system that is "FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY." This system is subject to monitoring. Individuals found performing unauthorized activities are subject to disciplinary action including criminal prosecution.

Wikipedia mentions this term, but it refers to unpublished documents.

These websites are freely available (no IP, login restrictions) and often contain the same data as government websites without this note, like fbo.gov.

What are the implications of this note in the context of such public websites? What license agreements apply in this case?

1 Answer 1


The warning says nothing about using the data. Unauthorized activities are prohibited. Don't set up your own website or store your vacation images on their servers even if there is unfettered access or because your special set of skills make it easy to gain unfettered access. Storing your images is not an official use.

Inside the US gov't we have similar warnings about accessing systems. Although US federal law prohibits unauthorized access and activities the warning you see on-screen is one more in your face warning that helps to defeat the "I didn't know I couldn't do that" defense.

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