With all of the potentially positive uses of e-mail and the Internet come potential abuses as well. Of 1,200 companies surveyed recently about Internet usage, 54% reported that they had caught employees browsing Web sites that were unrelated to their work — some up to eight hours per day! Not only can unauthorized Internet usage take a huge toll on employee productivity, but it can divert network resources from 'mission critical' company functions. Improper or indiscriminate use of e-mail can also lead to employee and company liability for workplace discrimination (including sexual harassment), copyright infringement, securities-law violations, antitrust violations, the loss of company trade secrets, and other legal and practical problems.
More and more companies are cracking down on excessive and improper use of e-mail and Internet access by their employees. (According to one recent study, 27% of large U.S. firms checked employee e-mail in 1999, up from 15% in 1997.) The first step in this process is to assemble an 'acceptable use policy' and communicate it to all employees — both temporary and permanent, as well as independent contractors — who use or have access to the company's electronic-communication systems. Another essential step is to obtain the employees' assent to the policy, whether by having them sign and return a written acknowledgment or by asking them to submit a computer-based acknowledgment by 'clicking' a designated form button.
This Course sets forth and explains a model acceptable-use policy that is a synthesis of more than a dozen such policies in use by major companies today. A company that already has a policy in place can use this Course to communicate that policy to its employees online — clearly the best medium for this message — and secure the employees' assent quickly and cost-effectively. Likewise, for a company that has not yet assembled or implemented an acceptable-use policy, the Course provides a turn-key solution that can be put in place quickly. The topics covered in the Course include:
• Overview of e-mail and Internet usage by employees • Purpose, scope and coverage of the policy • Monitoring and access by the company • Personal use • E-mail usage • Internet usage • Other computer usage • Violations