Who’s Data Is It Anyway?
Unfortunately, many employees believe that by signing into a private e-mail account or by using third party instant messaging software their communications somehow bypass their employer’s systems and are considered “personal”.
Such simply is not the case. If you use any part of your employer’s equipment to produce a communication, that communication can become part of the business records of your employer.
This means that for lack of a better word, any “traffic” on a company’s network or equipment (PCs, cell phones, etc.) are part of the business records of the employer and can not only be reviewed by authorized employer representatives, but be discoverable in future law suits.
Says David Simon, Esq. of We Comply: “Most employees don’t realize that virtually anything they do on their work computers is archived within the company and could end up in tomorrow’s headlines or next year’s court’s records.”
Moral of the story: plain and simple – don’t use your employer’s electronic resources for personal communications. If you keep your personal business away from your employer’s equipment and network, you’ll never have to worry about a newspaper or court case printing your “private” thoughts.
Also, if you’re in business with more than just one or two employees, a new year makes a great time to review/update your office, computer and internet use policies. Review LegalTypist’s Article: Year End Technology Assessment [http://ezinearticles.com/?Year-End-Technology-Assessment-(YETA)&id=378749].
Once an employer reaches a certain number of employees, they become subject to increased regulatory obligations through local, state and federal governmental agencies. Policies already in place should be reviewed and updated annually by a local employment and labor law attorney familiar with your industry.