A paper prepared by Hillel L. Parness, Professor, Columbia University Law School and Of Counsel, Lovells (New York) for MessageLabs (http://www.messagelabs.com) ; it includes the following sections: Introduction, The Risks, Harassment, Child Pornography, Defamation, 3rd Party Intellectual Property Rights, Contract Formation, Confidentiality, Dealing With Risks, and a Summary.
Introduction “Email is critical to many businesses; its ease of use, combined with the speed and scale of distribution, make it an invaluable business tool. Today, many businesses could not function without consistent and unfettered access to the Internet.
However, these same attributes can also cause severe difficulties for employers if employees’ use of email and the Internet is not controlled adequately. This short summary considers some of the risks that employers face. It is not a comprehensive study of the topic; therefore, detailed legal advice should always be sought in specific situations.”
Summary “All employers should have a clear AUP (Acceptable User Policy) and ensure that it is enforced consistently. The AUP should explain the risks, indicate what monitoring is to be conducted and why, offer alternatives to employees if they do not wish to use email communication and set out penalties for any breach of the AUP, linking this to the employer’s disciplinary policy. The AUP can be supported by appropriate technical solutions,
but the employer must ensure that the level of monitoring is proportionate to the risks involved.
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