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SAMPLE COMPUTER, EMAIL, AND INTERNET USE POLICY
This document sets forth
The Company computer system, email system, and Internet access (collectively, the "Computer System") are provided to employees at the Company's expense to assist them in carrying out Company business and performing their job responsibilities.
The Company owns, maintains, and is responsible for the Computer System. In the course of their jobs, employees may use the Computer System to communicate internally with coworkers or externally with clients, consultants, vendors, and other business acquaintances. The Company provides its employees with the Computer System to facilitate business communications and to enhance employee productivity. As with the telephone, there may be occasion to use the Computer System for personal purposes. Personal use is permitted if it does not interfere with job performance, consume significant resources, give rise to more than nominal additional costs, or interfere with the activities of other employees. Under no circumstances may the Computer System be used for personal financial gain, to solicit others for activities unrelated to the Company's business, or in connection with political campaigns or lobbying.
1. Access and Review of Email Communications and Internet Usage.
- (a) The Company treats all messages sent, received, or stored in the email system as business messages.
- (b) The Company may access, review, copy, and delete any messages sent, received, or stored on the email system. The Company may also access deleted messages in certain circumstances and monitor employees' Internet usage, including time spent online and sites accessed.
- (c) The Company may access, review, copy, or delete all email messages of any kind for any purpose and disclose them to any party (inside or outside of the Company). The Company may also review all computer files and communications and monitor its employees' use of the Internet to maintain system integrity and ensure that users are using the system appropriately, responsibly, and in accordance with Company policies and procedures.
- (d) If Company employees use the email system to transmit personal messages, those messages will be treated in the same way as business-related messages. In other words, the Company may access, review, copy, delete, or disclose personal messages for any purpose. Accordingly, employees should not use the email system to send, receive, or store any messages that they wish to keep private. Employees should treat the email system like a shared file system, and expect that any messages sent, received, or stored in the system (or on hard drives) will be available for review by any authorized representative of the Company for any purpose.
- (e) WHEN USING THE COMPUTER SYSTEM, WHETHER FOR BUSINESS PURPOSES OR PERSONAL USE, EMPLOYEES AND OTHERS SHOULD HAVE NO EXPECTATION THAT ANY COMMUNICATION OR INFORMATION TRANSMITTED OVER COMPANY FACILITIES OR STORED ON COMPANY-OWNED COMPUTERS IS OR WILL REMAIN PRIVATE.
2. Email Etiquette.
Please bear in mind that your email messages may be read by someone other than the person to whom you send them, and may someday be disclosed to outside parties or a court in connection with litigation. Accordingly, please ensure that your messages are courteous, professional, and businesslike. Remember that email messages, once sent, are usually irretrievable. Be sensitive to the fact that, in the absence of an explanation, email messages may be ambiguous and convey the wrong impression. This is of particular concern when a message is forwarded to multiple recipients. Instead of sending messages quickly without adequate review, consider printing the messages and reading them before distribution to ensure the content is appropriate.
3. Storing and Deleting Email Messages.
- (a) The Company strongly discourages the storage of a large quantity of email messages for a number of reasons. First, because email messages frequently contain confidential information, limiting the number, distribution, and availability of such messages is desirable. Second, retention of messages consumes storage space on the network server and personal computer hard disks, and can slow the performance of both the network and individual personal computers. Finally, if the Company needs to search the network server, back-up tapes, or individual hard disks for genuinely important documents, the search will be more efficient if there are fewer files to search.
- (b) Accordingly, employees should promptly delete any email messages they send or receive that no longer require action or are not necessary to an ongoing project. Employees should audit their stored email messages periodically to identify messages that are no longer needed and should delete those messages.
- (c) Because email transmissions will not be stored permanently on the Computer System, employees should make and file hard (paper) copies of those incoming and outgoing email messages they want to keep, much as they would ordinarily keep and file copies of correspondence. These messages may also be archived on the employee's own computer, where they will be stored off of the network. Note, however, that these messages are not backed up as part of the network.
4. Subscriptions to Mailing Lists and Discussion Groups.
Employees may subscribe to an email mailing list or discussion group if the subject and purpose of the list or group is directly related to the employee's job duties. Anyone who subscribes to such a list or group must advise the Company's manager of information systems or other appropriate personnel of the name of the list, and provide a copy of the subscription confirmation received from the list or group.
5. Permitted and Prohibited Uses.
- (a) Use Primarily for Business Purposes. The computer system, email system, and Internet access may be used to support and promote the Company's business objectives. The use of computers and Internet access through the Company system is a privilege, not a right, and may be revoked. Therefore, employees may not (for example):
- (i) play games on the computers;
- (ii) intentionally waste limited computer resources;
- (iii) engage in activities that disrupt the workplace business environment;
- (iv) engage in actions that damage computers, computer systems, or computer networks;
- (v) use the Computer System for commercial purposes, for personal gain or profit, or to engage in illegal activity;
- (vi) use the email system to copy or transmit any documents, software, or other information protected by copyright laws; or
- (vii) use the Computer System in violation of Company policies, including the computer, email and internet usage policies described in this policy.
- Use of the computer system, email system, or the Internet in violation of these or other Company policies can result in disciplinary action, including termination of employment.
- (b) Email Use. Email messages, whether created inside the Company or outside the Company and transmitted within the Company, or from the Company to other sites, can generate claims of defamation, harassment, and discrimination. Therefore, employees may not:
- (i) use the email system to engage in any communications that are in violation of any policy, including the Company's equal employment opportunity or sexual harassment policies; or
- (ii) use the email system to transmit or display:
- A. defamatory, sexually explicit, obscene, offensive or harassing messages, images, cartoons, jokes,
- or pictures;
- B. messages that disclose personal information without authorization;
- C. unwelcome propositions, requests for dates, or love letters;
- D. profanity, obscenity, slander, or libel;
- E. ethnic, religious, or racial slurs; or
- F. any other message that could be construed as harassment or disparagement of others based on
- their sex, race, sexual orientation, age, national origin, disability, or religious or political beliefs.
- (c) Internet Use. An employee accessing the Internet from a Company site is responsible for all online activities that take place through the use of his or her log-in and password. When using another organization's networks or computing resources, employees must comply with the rules appropriate for that network. Those with Internet access privileges may not:
- (i) access inappropriate websites (including those involving gambling, pornography, or obscene materials, or those that display defamatory, sexually explicit, obscene, offensive, or harassing messages, images, cartoons, jokes, or pictures, display profanity, obscenity, slander, libel, or ethnic, religious, or racial slurs);
- (ii) obligate the Company financially to any commercial websites; or
- (iii) use the Internet from a Company site to engage in the practice of moonlighting or for any commercial purposes, advertising, or other similar activities.
- (d) Reporting Violations of Policy. Any employee who becomes aware that the use of the Computer System has resulted in a violation of these policies or other Company policies should promptly report such violations to the manager of information systems or other appropriate personnel. An employee's failure to report a violation of these or other Company policies relating to a breach of system security or confidentiality may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.
- (e) Computer System Security.
- (i) Importance of System Security. The Company has an obligation to maintain the confidentiality of its own and its customer information. As a consequence, all users of the Computer System must take steps to ensure the security of the system and to maintain the confidentiality of all information on the system or communicated through the use of the system. Each employee is responsible for what happens under his or her log-in name. Violations of security policies are considered serious violations of Company policy, and can result in disciplinary action, including termination of employment.
- (ii) System Access. Password and user log-on IDs are unique to each authorized user and will be assigned by the manager of information systems. Passwords must be kept private. They should not be shared, coded into programs, or written down.
- To protect against the dissemination of confidential information, employees should not access their email messages for the first time in the presence of others. Email windows should not be left open on the screen when the computer is unattended. Email passwords (and other computer passwords) should be changed regularly.
- Computers should not be left on if you will be away from your desk for more than a brief period of time, and should never be left on overnight. You should log out of the system or lock your screen if you will be away from your computer for more than a brief period of time.
- (iii) Computer Viruses. Computer viruses can be injected into the system through the receipt of emails, email attachments, or files from other systems. Use particular care when opening files attached to emails from unknown senders. Employees must pay attention to and strictly comply with all warnings and instructions of the manager of information systems relating to viruses. Employees must immediately inform the manager of information systems of the presence of any virus on any Company computer. Any computer that is infected or suspected of being infected must immediately be disconnected from the network to reduce the risk of spreading a virus. Employees are prohibited from disabling or interfering with any virus-scanning software installed on their system.
- (iv) Installing or Downloading Software. The manager of information systems must approve and install all software on any Company computer. No employee may download software without the approval of the manager of information systems. If authorized to download software, employees must comply with all restrictions and procedures for downloading software, including mandatory virus scanning and detection procedures. Employees must inform the manager of information systems of any virus, configuration change, or different behavior of a computer or application, especially after the addition of new software to the environment. Employees must obey licensing agreements and procedures relating to the use and installation of software. The manager of information systems and his or her staff will inspect computers periodically to verify that all software has been approved and licensed properly.
- (f) Confidentiality of Communications.
- (i) Importance of Confidentiality. Employees must exercise a greater degree of caution in transmitting information through email than they take with other means of communicating information (e.g., written memoranda, letters, or phone calls) because of both the reduced human effort required to redistribute this information and security considerations on the Internet. Confidential information of the Company or its customers should never be transmitted or forwarded to outside individuals or companies not authorized to receive that information. Always use care in addressing email messages to make sure that messages are not inadvertently sent to outsiders or to the wrong person inside the Company. In particular, employees should exercise care when using distribution lists to make sure that all addressees are appropriate recipients of the information. Lists are not always kept current and individuals using lists should ensure that the lists are kept current. Do not routinely forward messages containing confidential information to multiple parties unless there is a clear business need.
[SIGNATURE PAGE FOLLOWS]
COMPUTER, EMAIL, AND INTERNET USAGE POLICIES
I acknowledge that I have read and will abide by the Company's policies regarding computer, email, and Internet usage. In particular, I understand that:
- The Company has complete authorization to monitor my computer usage, email communications, and Internet usage;
- The Company may monitor on a routine or special case basis;
- The Company may elect not to monitor and may not strictly enforce its computer policies, but that any such election or determination not to enforce any policy strictly will not be construed as a waiver of the Company's right to enforce its policies in any particular situation; and
- Any violation by me of the Company's computer, email, or Internet policies may result in a loss of access, disciplinary action (up to and including termination), and other legal action.
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What's a computer, email, and internet use policy?
Technology is a vital tool in almost any business, but it needs to be used safely and responsibly. Protect your business from costly litigation, damage to information systems, and losses in productivity losses with a standardized computer, email, and internet usage policy, also known as an acceptable use policy (AUP). You can also customize this form as required for your particular business.