Given the high investment in information technology infrastructure, corporate management needs to establish policies and procedures to protect computers, e-mail, and Internet communications in the same manner other business assets are protected. Legal e-mail policy expert, Mike Overly, states, “Many of the problems, and most of the lawsuits, that result from employee use of computers in the workplace revolve around electronic mail (e-mail). Approximately 40% of large organizations still don’t have a written policy in place or one that is adequate… Companies are doing a disservice when they rush out with a two- or three-page policy and forget it. They need a well-written policy, followed up with adoption and training for employees.”
Why set employee policies in the first place? In most ways the legal liability incurred from employee e-mail or Internet usage varies little from the liability borne from any document produced in the course of doing business. Rules of ethical conduct and privacy should apply to all communications resources. Since e-mail and the Internet are here to stay, management must have a way to both track and to enforce corporate policy. Those failing to implement, educate, or enforce usage policies will find themselves exposed to potential legal, privacy and productivity issues.
A well thought-out and strongly communicated e-mail, Internet, and computer use policy is the centerpiece to any company’s legal defense.
Michelle Drolet is the CEO and President of CONQWEST, Inc. of Holliston MA. CONQWEST offers technology solutions for corporate protection: Policy Planner (written policies), e-Minder (educating policies), Websense and Mailsweeper (enforcing policies). Ms. Drolet can be reached at 888-234-7404.