Topic Summary:  Appropriate Internet Use

The Internet has become essential to most business organizations. But inappropriate use of an organization's computer network or electronic-communication system can (1) invite malware attacks and misallocate available bandwidth and (2) lead to individual and organizational liability for workplace discrimination, copyright infringement, securities-law violations, antitrust violations, the loss of trade secrets, and other problems.

Every organization should have a policy on appropriate Internet use and enforce it consistently. While an organization may choose to permit limited or occasional personal Internet use in the workplace, it should reserve the right to monitor, access and disclose the electronic communications and Internet activities of any employee who uses the organization's systems.

The policy should also prohibit at least the following activities:

  • Accessing, uploading, downloading or sending information, images, videos, etc., that are sexually explicit or would otherwise violate anti-harassment laws;
  • Engaging in any activities that would compromise confidentiality or violate any data-privacy or data-security laws;
  • Sending communications that hide the sender's identity or represent the sender as someone else;
  • "Hacking" into any computer system;
  • Conducting job searches; and
  • Anything that could incur liability for copyright infringement, defamation or other unlawful conduct.
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