How To Write A Good Internet Use Policy

Organisations develop a well-written Internet Use Policy to protect them from harm and risk when employees are using the Internet at work. The Internet Use policy sets out rules of behaviour expected of employees when online

For example, organisations generally won't want employees downloading pornography or spending excessive time surfing the web for their own personal benefit. Organisations will also want their staff to show caution when discussing ideas in chat rooms and other forums. Business-confidential information can easily be published unintentionally when caught up in an interesting online discussion about a product or idea you may be working on.

To protect the organisation, the employment contract must make it clear that disciplinary action can be taken if workers fail to comply with the requirements set out in the policy. Legally incorporate the Internet use policy into each employee’s terms and conditions of employment, and refer to a document that has the policy. This could be a staff handbook, IT policy, or new joiners manual.

Consider also external contractors or consultants using your business systems and networks to use the Internet. You should incorporate the Internet Use Policy into the contract of engagement and refer to a document that has the policy as outlined above.

Bring the policy to the attention of each worker who has Internet access, make sure it is reviewed regularly and give regular staff training updates, as required.

Typical layout

The Policy should:

  • state that employees must not discuss any aspects of the organisation’s business (e.g. on the Internet or in newsgroups) unless part of the employees job description;
  • tell workers that the organisation reserves the right to monitor worker Internet use. Monitoring must be carried out in accordance with Data Protection and the Lawful Business Practice Regulations. Internet browsing should be monitored regularly, log reviewed, and filtering put in place to stop accessing inappropriate or illegal material;
  • where personal Internet browsing is allowed, to specify the limits of use (e.g. during specific periods, such as in their lunch time);
  • discourage the practice of downloading material which is unnecessary for business purposes;
  • refer to the procedure for resolving complaints / disputes over Internet use;
  • encourage workers only to go online when necessary;

Make sure to scan downloads or transmitted materials to/from the Internet. Install firewalls and any other software for workers to check files and attachments for viruses, and give them training.

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