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News

UK businesses failing to maintain electronic data policies

E-Mail Systems : 04 September, 2007  (Technical Article)
E-mail Systems warns UK businesses that they need to maintain and monitor their electronic data policies for them to remain effective
The vast majority of companies in the UK are neither policing nor updating their electronic data policies according to email and web management specialist Email Systems.

Whilst many businesses have an electronic data policy in place, it is typically most prominent when a new employee joins and signs a contract, going largely unseen and unregulated thereafter. Moreover, such policies tend to focus on email, with many firms neglecting to ensure that both email and web usage are covered within the policy.

With growing numbers of problems associated with inappropriate use of email and inappropriate internet content being accessed during working hours, Email Systems strongly expects that many businesses will be tightening their policies over the coming six months. Numerous recent cases of Facebook being banned at work and disgruntled employees airing grievances on this and other social networking sites indicate that this trend is growing fast.

Currently, many employees either do not realise or simply disregard the fact that their email activity and browsing habits are potentially monitored, irrespective of whatever corporate policies may be in place. With the IT equipment, data and Intellectual Property all belonging to the employer, Email Systems expects to see an increase in the number of businesses taking action on employees disregarding their wishes. In recent weeks many mainstream press articles have covered staff misuse stories putting the names of household companies into the public domain in a negative light, these have included stories around both 118118 and Argos on facebook usage by their employees.

Increasingly, as both email and web use is filtered and monitored, firms are likely to begin acting on these policies and ensuring that employees are aware of their boundaries.

Clearly enforcing the policy is extremely difficult without the tools to monitor email and web usage. Email Systems is the only major managed service specialist to filter both email and web content with dedicated services available either separately or together. The following represents the recommended minimum Electronic Data Policy to put into place:

Email Use:
· The Company may monitor all emails that are created on the Company's system and transmitted over the network
· In the event that workers are sent offensive material via email, they should delete it and advise the sender that they do not wish to receive it again. Offensive material in the possession of workers should be deleted/discarded immediately.
· In the event of a worker being absent from work due to sickness or another unexpected reason, the individual's manager may access the individual worker's email account to ensure business is not affected. The individual's manager may open private emails, which may contain business and private information, as long as the private information remains unread.

Web Use:
· The Company may monitor the use of all Company internet facilities which should primarily be used for business purposes

Neil Hammerton, CEO of Email Systems, commented:
"As both email and web use is filtered and monitored, firms are likely to begin acting on these policies and ensuring that employees are aware of their boundaries. It is vital that the policies are up to date and incorporate aspects such as use of social networking sites for example, in addition to other more generic issues, such as use of personal web mail during work hours."
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