Whether a mom-and-pop shop, a billion dollar distributor, or a local municipality, the use of the internet and electronic communication systems (i.e. emailing) in the workplace is a fundamental part of doing business in the 21st century. While this technology has brought many benefits to the workplace, without question, improper internet use and emailing by employees adversely affects productivity, can potentially compromise computer networks, and can expose a business or municipality to increased risk of legal liability. That is why it is imperative for all businesses and municipalities with electronic communication systems within their workplace to have an Internet and Electronic Communications Policy in place. At a minimum an effective policy should include a stated purpose, necessary definitions, provisions for personal use (if allowed), other permitted uses, prohibited uses, employee responsibilities, employer responsibilities, and consequences for violations of the policy.
However, each business and municipality is different, so the details of an effective policy should conform to the needs and circumstances of one’s workplace. For instance, for a business with confidential or proprietary, designs, processes, or equipment, etc. it may be prudent to include cellular telephone use (particularly those with camera capabilities) as an additional regulated use item within its policy. For a municipality, there are additional FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) considerations to take into account and address within its policy.
Knowledgeable legal counsel can help assess all the applicable variables and draft policies suitable to protect your business or municipality.