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INTERNET, E-MAIL, AND COMPUTER USE POLICY

 

Policy Statement

 

The use of XYZ Company (Company) electronic systems, including computers, fax machines, and all forms of Internet/intranet access, is for company business and for authorized purposes only. Brief and occasional personal use of the electronic mail system or the Internet is acceptable as long as it is not excessive or inappropriate, occurs during personal time (lunch or other breaks), and does not result in expense or harm to the Company or otherwise violate this policy.

 

Use is defined as "excessive" if it interferes with normal job functions, responsiveness, or the ability to perform daily job activities. Electronic communication should not be used to solicit or sell products or services that are unrelated to the Company's business; distract, intimidate, or harass coworkers or third parties; or disrupt the workplace.

 

Use of Company computers, networks, and Internet access is a privilege granted by management and may be revoked at any time for inappropriate conduct carried out on such systems, including, but not limited to:

 

Important exception: consistent with federal law, you may use the Company's electronic systems in order to discuss with other employees the terms and conditions of your and your coworkers' employment. However, any such discussions should take place during non-duty times and should not interfere with your or your coworkers' assigned duties. You must comply with a coworker's stated request to be left out of such discussions.

 

Using Company electronic systems to access, create, view, transmit, or receive racist, sexist, threatening, or otherwise objectionable or illegal material, defined as any visual, textual, or auditory entity, file, or data, is strictly prohibited. Such material violates the Company anti-harassment policies and subjects the responsible employee to disciplinary action. The Company's electronic mail system, Internet access, and computer systems must not be used to harm others or to violate the laws and regulations of the United States or any other nation or any state, city, province, or other local jurisdiction in any way. Use of company resources for illegal activity can lead to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal and criminal prosecution. The Company will comply with reasonable requests from law enforcement and regulatory agencies for logs, diaries, archives, or files on individual Internet activities, e-mail use, and/or computer use.

 

Unless specifically granted in this policy, any non-business use of the Company's electronic systems is expressly forbidden.

 

If you violate these policies, you could be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.

 

Ownership and Access of Electronic Mail, Internet Access, and Computer Files; No Expectation of Privacy

 

The Company owns the rights to all data and files in any computer, network, or other information system used in the Company and to all data and files sent or received using any company system or using the Company's access to any computer network, to the extent that such rights are not superseded by applicable laws relating to intellectual property. The Company also reserves the right to monitor electronic mail messages (including personal/private/instant messaging systems) and their content, as well as any and all use by employees of the Internet and of computer equipment used to create, view, or access e-mail and Internet content. Employees must be aware that the electronic mail messages sent and received using Company equipment or Company-provided Internet access, including web-based messaging systems used with such systems or access, are not private and are subject to viewing, downloading, inspection, release, and archiving by Company officials at all times. The Company has the right to inspect any and all files stored in private areas of the network or on individual computers or storage media in order to assure compliance with Company policies and state and federal laws. No employee may access another employee's computer, computer files, or electronic mail messages without prior authorization from either the employee or an appropriate Company official.

 

The Company uses software in its electronic information systems that allows monitoring by authorized personnel and that creates and stores copies of any messages, files, or other information that is entered into, received by, sent, or viewed on such systems. There is no expectation of privacy in any information or activity conducted, sent, performed, or viewed on or with Company equipment or Internet access. Accordingly, employees should assume that whatever they do, type, enter, send, receive, and view on Company electronic information systems is electronically stored and subject to inspection, monitoring, evaluation, and Company use at any time. Further, employees who use Company systems and Internet access to send or receive files or other data that would otherwise be subject to any kind of confidentiality or disclosure privilege thereby waive whatever right they may have to assert such confidentiality or privilege from disclosure. Employees who wish to maintain their right to confidentiality or a disclosure privilege must send or receive such information using some means other than Company systems or the company-provided Internet access.

 

The Company has licensed the use of certain commercial software application programs for business purposes. Third parties retain the ownership and distribution rights to such software. No employee may create, use, or distribute copies of such software that are not in compliance with the license agreements for the software. Violation of this policy can lead to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.

 

Confidentiality of Electronic Mail

 

As noted above, electronic mail is subject at all times to monitoring, and the release of specific information is subject to applicable state and federal laws and Company rules, policies, and procedures on confidentiality. Existing rules, policies, and procedures governing the sharing of confidential information also apply to the sharing of information via commercial software. Since there is the possibility that any message could be shared with or without your permission or knowledge, the best rule to follow in the use of electronic mail for non-work-related information is to decide if you would post the information on the office bulletin board with your signature.

 

It is a violation of Company policy for any employee, including system administrators and supervisors, to access electronic mail and computer systems files to satisfy curiosity about the affairs of others, unless such access is directly related to that employee's job duties. Employees found to have engaged in such activities will be subject to disciplinary action.

 

Electronic Mail Tampering

 

Electronic mail messages received should not be altered without the sender's permission; nor should electronic mail be altered and forwarded to another user and/or unauthorized attachments be placed on another's electronic mail message.

 

Policy Statement for Internet/Intranet Browser(s)

 

The Internet is to be used to further the Company's mission, to provide effective service of the highest quality to the Company's customers and staff, and to support other direct job-related purposes. Supervisors should work with employees to determine the appropriateness of using the Internet for professional activities and career development. The various modes of Internet/Intranet access are Company resources and are provided as business tools to employees who may use them for research, professional development, and work-related communications. Limited personal use of Internet resources is a special exception to the general prohibition against the personal use of computer equipment and software.

 

Employees are individually liable for any and all damages incurred as a result of violating company security policy, copyright, and licensing agreements.

 

All Company policies and procedures apply to employees' conduct on the Internet, especially, but not exclusively, relating to: intellectual property, confidentiality, company information dissemination, standards of conduct, misuse of company resources, anti-harassment, and information and data security.

 

Personal Electronic Equipment

 

The Company prohibits the use in the workplace of any type of camera phone, cell phone camera, digital camera, video camera, or other form of recording device to record the image or other personal information of another person, if such use would constitute a violation of a civil or criminal statute that protects the person's right to be free from harassment or from invasion of the person's right to privacy. Employees may take pictures and make recordings during non-working time in a way that does not violate such civil or criminal statutes. The Company reserves the right to report any illegal use of such devices to appropriate law enforcement authorities.

 

Due to the significant risk of harm to the company's electronic resources, or loss of data, from any unauthorized access that causes data loss or disruption, employees should not bring personal computers or data storage devices (such as floppy disks, CDs/DVDs, external hard drives, USB / flash drives, "smart" phones, iPods/iPads/iTouch or similar devices, laptops or other mobile computing devices, or other data storage media) to the workplace and connect them to Company electronic systems unless expressly permitted to do so by the Company. To minimize the risk of unauthorized copying of confidential company business records and proprietary information that is not available to the general public, any employee connecting a personal computing device, data storage device, or image-recording device to Company networks or information systems thereby gives permission to the Company to inspect the personal computer, data storage device, or image-recording device at any time with personnel and/or electronic resources of the Company's choosing and to analyze any files, other data, or data storage devices or media that may be within or connectable to the data-storage device in question in order to ensure that confidential company business records and proprietary information have not been taken without authorization. Employees who do not wish such inspections to be done on their personal computers, data storage devices, or imaging devices should not connect them to Company computers or networks.

 

Violation of this policy, or failure to permit an inspection of any device under the circumstances covered by this policy, shall result in disciplinary action, up to and possibly including immediate termination of employment, depending upon the severity and repeat nature of the offense. In addition, the employee may face both civil and criminal liability from the Company, from law enforcement officials, or from individuals whose rights are harmed by the violation.

 

For a sample policy regarding the use of social media, click here.

 

For a detailed discussion of the legal issues behind the use of company computers, e-mail, and Internet access, click here.

 

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