Logging Internet Use - Legal?

  [DELETED] 10:21 07 Jan 2006

Hi all,

I have just started working for a company and have a query. I have set up a proxy server and all internet usage is logged for example:

Date Time Website User

I have also drawn up an acceptable use policy in which includes the paragraph

"The network administrator(s) may review your files and communications at anytime to ensure that you are using the system responsibly. This includes reviewing the logs that are stored of your activity on the network and on the internet."

Now an employee is stating that what I am doing is against the data protection act as I am logging information. My come back is that the internet is a company resource and we can restrict or allow as we see fit. I explained I can only view the log which states which websites have been visited and not the actually information which is being viewed by the user but she still believes I am in the wrong.

The way I see it is it’s just like a telephone. We do not allow personal calls to be made on the company telephone. Each quarter we get a telephone bill which logs the calls made. We do not record the conversations though! So as far as I can see this is the same situation.

Please can I have your views on this matter?

  [DELETED] 10:29 07 Jan 2006

What I believe you should do is to get all employees to sign-up to the AUP, and in the AUP you state something along the lines of 'your first usage of the systems indicates acceptance of this policy' either that or get them to physically sign it.

If they sign up to it it ain't against the data protection act. I'm not even convinced it is against it if they don't sign-up.

It is as you say a company resource, and presumably for company use or occasional personal use as a perk so you have to wonder what exactly she has to hide!

Presumably she has the same concerns about email filtering.

  [DELETED] 11:34 07 Jan 2006

Your company is probably already registered under the Data Proction Act so I don't think you will be contravening anything.

You could always talk to your Personnel/HR Manager who should be able to give you more information.

As you already have a company telephone policy which the staff have accepted they should assume that internet usage would have a similar policy
as well?

Why would someone want to "complain" unless, as silverous has mentioned, "they have something to hide".

  spuds 11:55 07 Jan 2006

I generally find that the Data Protection Commissioners telephone advice service is fairly good.Why not give them a call, and perhaps solve the problem. Would mention that the term 'as practically possible', and 'each case on its own merits' may come into the conversation !!.

  [DELETED] 12:04 07 Jan 2006

In my current employment contract they can read personal e-mail on a random basis to ensure I.T. resorce isn't being misused. Most new contracts now will make it an infringement of company rules to engage in unreasonable use of I.T. resources for non work related purposes.

However, I am not an expert on employment law but I would assume that a contract cannot be changed except with the agreement of both parties: the exception would be where a company and individuals have a duty to comply with Government Legislation.

As far as I am aware the exception would be where an employee sends E-mails with pornographic or material of a sexually harrassing nature, then they could be liable to instant dismissal.

I think you need the advice of a solicitor, or if a large company, your Company Secretary or head of Personnel should be able to advise.

  [DELETED] 12:12 07 Jan 2006

When my wife was in hospital last summer,the staff section of the cafe has a row of pc`s for staff use.Every one of them was logged on to ebay,from doctors to porters.

  wee eddie 12:15 07 Jan 2006

Personal use of the companies Internet facilities "must" be delineated in an individuals "Contract of Employment"

Monitoring of all correspondence and web use, using Company Hardware is perfectly legal, although it may not be acceptable to some employees.

As there are legal Requirements for the Company to safeguard, both itself and it's Personnel from Litigation.

  Taff™ 13:19 07 Jan 2006

Have a look at this policy click here In general terms a company provides equipment and resources for it`s employees to use to the company benefit. The company therefore can insist that these are used solely for this purpose although most have a fair use policy like the one above. Any employee who breaches the company policy may be disciplined and even sacked for gross misconduct. Remember the case last year of the CEO of a major bank in London who was caught with pornography on his computer?

It is little different to an employee who uses company time, paper and postage stamps to send out personal letters to family and friends. Any employee for example who received mail addressed to them at work could expect that mail to be opened and read in the mailroom - I remember such policies going back over 20 years! The IT policies are only an extension of this to address the issues ov the new technology and the threats they pose for todays businesses.

  [DELETED] 13:33 07 Jan 2006

I work for a large organisation as a union representative and all employees have to sign the "acceptable use of IT" policy, which warns them that all activity can be traced. Neither my work organisation or my union have any problem with data protection issues. Staff are allowed "reasonable" personal use of the IT system, as long it doesn't slow it down or get in the way of their work.

In my organisation and others that I have been told about there have been problems with staff accessing really nasty porn and/or racist material and this is one of the main reasons for the policy being enforced.

  [DELETED] 13:37 07 Jan 2006

Those who complain most, have most to hide.


  woodchip 13:38 07 Jan 2006

I would say they cannot do anything about it. As there is no personal information being stored. As for what the Program does. Anybody could have used the Computer for access

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