Valuable Workplace Policies: Electronic Communications and Network Policy
Your business probably encourages its employees and contractors to use interactive digital equipment (everything from phones, computers and tablets to pagers, photocopiers and flash drives, etc.) to support your business's operations. What is often overlooked in this respect is that all these devices have access to your business's "information system," being its computer hardware, software, communications equipment, etc. Your business's information system stores all of the communication throughout your business and serves and supports all of your business activities.
So, why does this matter? Well, left unchecked, employee or contractor use of interactive digital equipment on your business's information system can compromise the confidentiality of proprietary or sensitive information belonging to your business, its clients, or partners. Further, such activity can violate company policy and the law. This is why it is imperative to implement an Electronic Communications and Network Policy at your business, limiting the scope of use of your information systems to the respective role of the user. An Electronic Communications and Network Policy specifically outlines what acceptable and unacceptable uses of the information systems are and provides guidelines for complying with applicable laws. Additionally, an Electronic Communications and Network Policy reserves the right of your business to access any information that employees or contractors communicate through your business's information systems.
You likely realize that adopting an Electronic Communications and Network Policy and circulating it via e-mail, or posting it in the break room, is unlikely to prevent your employees from exposing your business to liability. Why would a document that will likely be ignored prevent anyone from downloading music in violation of copyright law, sending out e-mails in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, or downloading games that harbor harmful viruses, worms, Trojan Horses, or similar malicious programs? Fair enough - nobody will argue with that point. However, what the Electronic Communications and Network Policy will do is show, in the aftermath of an issue exposing your business to liability, that the business took reasonable steps to prevent something like that from happening. Often times, that is enough to save a business owner a lot of time, money and goodwill.