Internet, e-mail, and computer use policy
Last updated: May 24 , 2022
1. Policy Statement
The use of electronic systems during working time, including computers, and all forms of Internet access, is for company business and authorized purposes only. Brief and occasional personal use of the electronic mail system or the Internet is acceptable as long as it is not excessive or inappropriate, occurs during personal time (lunch or other breaks), and does not result in expense or harm to the Company or otherwise violate this policy. Use is defined as "excessive" if it interferes with normal job functions, responsiveness, or the ability to perform daily job activities during working hours. Electronic communication should not be used to solicit or sell products or services that are unrelated to the Company's business; distract, intimidate, or harass coworkers or third parties. Use of computers, networks, and Internet access during working hours for inappropriate conduct including, but not limited to:
- Sending chain letters or participating in any way in the creation or transmission of unsolicited commercial e mail ("spam") that is unrelated to legitimate Company purposes;
- Engaging in private or personal business activities, including excessive use of instant messaging and chat rooms (see below);
- Accessing networks, servers, drives, folders, or files to which you have not been granted access or authorization from someone with the right to make such a grant;
- Making unauthorized copies of Company files or other Company data;
- Destroying, deleting, erasing, or concealing Company files or other Company data, or otherwise making such files or data unavailable or inaccessible to the Company or other authorized users of Company systems;
- Misrepresenting oneself or the Company;
- Violating the laws or other local jurisdiction in any way;
- Engaging in unlawful or malicious activities;
- Deliberately propagating any virus, worm, Trojan horse, trap-door program code, or other code or file designed to disrupt, disable, impair, or otherwise harm either the Company's systems or those of any other individual or entity;
- Using abusive, profane, threatening, racist, sexist, or otherwise objectionable language in either public or private messages;
- Sending, receiving, or accessing pornographic materials;
- Becoming involved in partisan politics;
- Causing congestion, disruption, disablement, alteration, or impairment of Company networks or systems;
- Maintaining, organizing, or participating in non-work-related Web blogs ("blogs"), Web journals, "chat rooms", or private/personal/instant messaging;
- Failing to log off any secure, controlled-access computer or other forms of electronic data system to which you are assigned, if you leave such computer or system unattended;
- Using recreational games; and defeating or attempting to defeat security restrictions on company systems and applications.
Important exception: you may use the Company's electronic systems to discuss with other coworkers the terms and conditions of your and their work. However, any such discussions should take place during non-duty times and should not interfere with your or your coworkers' assigned duties. You must comply with a coworker's stated request to be left out of such discussions. Using Company electronic systems to access, create, view, transmit, or receive racist, sexist, threatening, or otherwise objectionable or illegal material, defined as any visual, textual, or auditory entity, file, or data, is strictly prohibited. Such material violates the Company anti-harassment policies. The Company's electronic mail system and computer systems must not be used to harm others in any way. Use of company resources for illegal activity can lead to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal and criminal prosecution. The Company will comply with reasonable requests from law enforcement and regulatory agencies for logs, diaries, archives, or files on individual Internet activities, e-mail use, and computer use. Unless expressly granted in this policy, any non-business use of the Company's electronic systems is explicitly forbidden. If you violate these policies, you could be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.
2. Ownership and Access of Electronic Mail and Computer Files; No Expectation of Privacy
The Company owns the rights to all data and files or other information system used in the Company and to all data and files sent or received using any company system or using the Company's access to any computer network, to the extent that such rights are not superseded by applicable laws relating to intellectual property. The Company also reserves the right to monitor electronic mail messages (including personal/private/instant messaging systems) and their content, as well as any and all use by Independent Contractors of the Internet and of the computer equipment used to create, view, or access e-mail and Internet content during working hours. Independent Contractors must be aware that the electronic mail messages sent and received, including web-based messaging systems used with such systems or access, are not private and are subject to viewing, downloading, inspection, release, and archiving by Company officials at all times. The Company has the right to inspect any files stored in private areas of the network or on individual computers or storage media to assure compliance with Company policies. The Company uses software in its electronic information systems that allow monitoring by authorized personnel and that creates and stores copies of any messages, files, or other information that is entered into, received by, sent, or viewed on such systems. There is no expectation of privacy in any information or activity conducted, sent, performed, or viewed on or with Company equipment or Internet access. Accordingly, your coworkers should assume that whatever they do, type, enter, send, receive, and view on the electronic information systems during working time is electronically stored and subject to inspection, monitoring, evaluation, and Company use at any time. Further, coworkers who use Company systems and Internet access during working hours to send or receive files or other data that would otherwise be subject to any confidentiality or disclosure privilege thereby waive whatever right they may have to assert such confidentiality or claim from disclosure. Coworkers who wish to maintain their right to privacy or a disclosure privilege must send or receive such information using some means other systems or Internet access. The Company has licensed the use of specific commercial software application programs for business purposes. Third parties retain the ownership and distribution rights to such software. No coworker may create, use, or distribute copies of such software that are not in compliance with the license agreements for the software. Violation of this policy can lead to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.
3. Confidentiality of Electronic Mail
As noted above, electronic mail is subject at all times to monitoring, and the release of specific information is subject to applicable Company rules, policies, and procedures on confidentiality. Existing regulations, policies, and procedures governing the sharing of confidential information also apply to the sharing of information via commercial software. It is a violation of Company policy for any coworker, including system administrators and supervisors, to access electronic mail and computer systems files to satisfy curiosity about the affairs of others, unless such access is directly related to that coworker's job duties. Coworkers found to have engaged in such activities will be subject to disciplinary action.
4. Electronic Mail Tampering
Electronic mail messages received should not be altered without the sender's permission; nor should electronic mail be changed and forwarded to another user and/or unauthorized attachments be placed on another's electronic mail message.
5. Policy Statement for Internet/Intranet Browser(s)
During working hours the Internet is to be used to further the Company's mission, to provide effective service of the highest quality to the Company's customers and staff, and to support other direct job-related purposes. The various modes of Internet/Intranet access are Company resources and are provided as business tools to Independent Contractors who may use them for research, professional development, and work-related communications. Limited personal use of Internet resources is a special exception to the general prohibition against the personal use of computer equipment and software. Independent Contractors are individually liable for any damages incurred as a result of violating company security policy, copyright, and licensing agreements. All Company policies and procedures apply to your conduct on the Internet, mostly, but not exclusively, relating to intellectual property, confidentiality, company information dissemination, standards of conduct, misuse of company resources, anti-harassment, and information and data security.
6. Personal Electronic Equipment
Due to the significant risk of harm to the company's electronic resources, or loss of data, from any unauthorized access that causes data loss or disruption, coworkers should carefully use the personal computers or data storage devices (such as external hard drives, USB / flash drives, "smart" phones or similar devices, laptops or other mobile computing devices, or other data storage media) and connect them to Company electronic systems. To minimize the risk of unauthorized copying of confidential company business records and proprietary information that is not available to the general public, any coworker using a personal computing device, data storage device, or image-recording device to Company networks or information systems thereby permits the Company to inspect the personal computer, data storage device, or image-recording device at any time with personnel and/or electronic resources of the Company's choosing and to analyze any files, other data, or data storage devices or media that may be within or connectable to the data-storage device in question to ensure that confidential company business records and proprietary information have not been taken without authorization. Violation of this policy, or failure to permit an inspection of any device under the circumstances covered by this policy, shall result in disciplinary action, up to and possibly including immediate termination of your work, depending upon the severity and repeat nature of the offence. Also, you may face both civil and criminal liability from the Company, from law enforcement officials, or from -individuals whose rights are harmed by the violation.