While there are many technical solutions available for monitoring and filtering employees’ internet usage, a good Internet Usage Policy is essential for the effective control and management of internet usage throughout the workplace. It defines the standards of appropriate internet usage so users know what is expected of them, as well as laying the foundation for the ethical monitoring and tracking of users internet activities. Explicitly communicating to all employees the extent of their privacy rights up front, can avoid much confusion and legal challenges down the road.
Small and mid-sized businesses tend to take a relaxed approach to providing Internet access to their employees. There is usually a sense of trust in the responsible usage of resources placed at the disposal of employees. Many statistics however, have clearly indicated that unfettered internet access causes countless hours of lost employee productivity and is a common cause of employment termination. Unrestricted internet access can also create real problems for the employer including inadvertent disclosure of sensitive corporate information or trade secrets, and making the entire system vulnerable to hackers intent on stealing sensitive data. The company may also face lawsuits due to employees using the company email system to threaten, harass, or defame as well as the infringement of copyrights or trademarks.
Creating an Internet Usage Policy, makes sense even without having an internet monitoring system in place. It serves dual purposes: It provides an element of deterrence to employees with the knowledge that their internet activity might be monitored. It also provides the company with moral and legal standing in case disciplinary action needs to be taken to address the abuse of technology resources in the workplace.
Experts generally agree that a good Internet Usage Policy should have the following elements:
- State that just as any “company property”, the use of technology is limited to business use only. Technology is provided by the company with the sole purpose of assisting employees in carrying out the company’s business purposes. The misuse of these resources constitutes a violation of company policy, which can lead to disciplinary action.
- Clearly state that all e-mail communication will be treated as any other business communication and that use of the e-mail system to engage in communications that are in violation of company policy—including transmitting defamatory, offensive or harassing messages—is explicitly prohibited.
- Advise employees that all internet activity and communication becomes the property of the company and that the company reserves the right to access, review and monitor or disclose such information. The policy should state explicitly that employees should not use the company email system to send or to receive any messages that they wish to remain private.
- Include in the policy legal language stating that by using the company’s technology systems, the employee is, in effect, aware of the policy and that by using these systems, the employee expressly consents to the company’s review and monitoring of internet and email activities as outlined in the policy.
Having an Internet Usage Policy is a common sense first step towards effectively managing the company’s technology resources.
For more information about the importance of an internet usage policy in the workplace, contact Superior Technology Solutions. We look forward to sharing our extensive technology background with your organization. For more information, visit us on the web at www.SuperiorTechnology.com or call us at 845-735-3555.
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