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The E-policy Handbook : Rules and Best Practices to Safely Manage Your Company's E-Mail, Blogs, Social Networking, and Other Electronic Communication Tools
" Trillions of e-mails travel each year through corporate networks-and they're not all work-related. But for organizations wishing to protect themselves from liability, e-mail is no longer the only danger-they now have to contend with blogs, social networking sites, and other new technologies. Packed with electronic rules, step-by-step guidelines, sample policies, and e-disaster stories, this revised edition of The e-Policy Handbook helps readers: implement strategic electronic rules - prevent security breaches and data theft - safeguard confidential company and customer information - manage new and emerging technologies - write and implement effective policies - train employees Updated to cover new technologies, including instant messaging, social networking, text messaging, video sites, and more, this is a comprehensive resource for developing clear, complete e-policies.
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January 06, 2009
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Excerpt from The E-policy Handbook by Nancy Flynn
Why Every Organization Needs Electronic Rules and
Policies Based on Best Practices
Since the initial publication of The e-Policy Handbook in 2001, electronic
business communication tools and technologies have taken the workplace
by storm. Consequently, many employers find themselves drowning
in risk as they struggle to manage the use--and curtail the abuse
--of what were originally conceived as time-saving, productivity-enhancing
Without question, e-mail has become the business world's communication
tool of choice, forever altering the ways in which we exchange
information and conduct professional and personal relationships.
Meanwhile, new tools and technologies--instant messenger (IM), blogs,
social networking and video sites, cell phones and camera phones, text
messaging, ''confidential'' electronic messaging, and the BlackBerry
Smartphone, to name a few--have joined the electronic business communication
mix at a breakneck pace.
The good news: The ever-expanding universe of high-tech tools facilitates
users' ability to quickly and conveniently transmit business-critical
data and stay connected with colleagues and customers around the
globe. The bad news: Emerging technologies dramatically increase employers'
exposure to potentially costly and protracted risks including
workplace lawsuits, regulatory fines, security breaches, and productivity
drains, among others.
Fortunately, for savvy employers determined to manage technology
use and minimize risks, there is a solution. Through the strategic
implementation of a comprehensive e-policy program that combines
written electronic rules with formal employee training supported by policy-
based monitoring, management, and archiving tools, organizations
can effectively minimize (and in some cases prevent) electronic risks
while maximizing compliance with legal, regulatory, and organizational
e-Policy Rule 1: Through the implementation of a comprehensive
e-policy program that combines written rules with employee
education supported by discipline and technology tools, organizations
can effectively minimize electronic risks and maximize
In the Electronic Office, Risks Abound
Even if your organization does not currently use IM, operate a business
blog, or provide executives with BlackBerry Smartphones, you cannot
afford to ignore new and emerging technology. If you fail to provide
the hot, must-have technologies of the day, chances are your tech-savvy
employees (particularly younger employees whose social lives revolve
around IMing, texting, and social networking) will bring them in
through the back door and load them onto your system without management
approval or IT oversight. Left undetected and unmanaged, that's
a recipe for disaster!
Manage Powerful, Popular Electronic Business
Communication Tools Proactively
Considering that the average personal computer can hold 1 million
pages of information, it's no surprise that 90 percent of the business
documents we create and acquire are electronic, according to the Association
of Records Managers and Administrators (ARMA) as reported by
Employers who are concerned about managing all that electronic
information--and related risks--should act now to put written policies
in place governing the use of established tools and new technologies at
work during business hours and at home on employees' own time.
Old and new alike, all electronic business communication tools must
be addressed by comprehensive, best-practices-based rules and policies
as detailed in this book. Failure to establish and enforce written rules
and e-policies puts the organization at risk of electronic disasters including,
but not limited to: regulatory audits, security breaches, lost productivity,
shattered stock valuation, negative publicity, lost credibility, and
workplace lawsuits, which employers and legal professionals alike consistently
identify as their number-one e-mail and Internet-related concern.
e-Policy Rule 2: You cannot afford to ignore new and
emerging technology. If you fail to provide the hot, must-have
technologies of the day, chances are your tech-savvy
employees will bring them in through the back door. Left undetected
and unmanaged, that's a recipe for disaster!
Employers Face Ever-Increasing Legal Liability
As early as 2001, when the first edition of The e-Policy Handbook was
published, employers cited legal liability as their primary reason for
monitoring employee e-mail and Internet use.3 Since then, we have witnessed
the expanding role of e-mail and other forms of electronically
stored information (ESI) as evidence in civil lawsuits and criminal trials.
In 2006, 24 percent of organizations had employee e-mail subpoenaed,
compared to just 9 percent in 2001. Another 15 percent of companies
went to court to battle lawsuits specifically triggered by employee
e-mail in 2006, according to the Workplace E-Mail, Instant Messaging,
and Blog Survey from American Management Association and ePolicy
Electronically Stored Information Plays an
Ever-Expanding Evidentiary Role
There is no doubt that the evidentiary role of workplace e-mail and other
electronically stored information will continue to expand. The United
States Federal Court made clear this fact in December 2006, when the
much-anticipated amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
(FRCP) were announced, affirming the fact that all electronically stored
information is subject to discovery (which means it may be subpoenaed
and used as evidence) in federal litigation.
When it comes to electronic evidence, it is the content that counts,
not the tool or technology used. Whether created, transmitted, acquired,
posted, downloaded, or uploaded via e-mail, IM, the Internet, a cell
phone, or any other tool, ESI creates the electronic equivalent of DNA
evidence. ESI can--and will--be subpoenaed and used as evidence for
or against your company should it one day become embroiled in a workplace
lawsuit. Will you be prepared?
e-Policy Rule 3: Electronically stored information (ESI) creates
the electronic equivalent of DNA evidence. ESI can--and will--be
subpoenaed and used as evidence for or against your organization
should it one day become embroiled in a workplace lawsuit.
Regulators Grow Increasingly Watchful
Over the years, government and industry regulators have turned an increasingly
watchful eye to the content created and the business records
generated by e-mail and other electronic business communication tools.
For example, failure to comply with Security and Exchange Commission
(SEC) rules governing written e-mail and IM content and record retention
policies has cost brokerage firms hundreds of millions of dollars in
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA),
Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), and Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) are
just three of the tens of thousands of regulatory rules with which workplace
computer users must comply--or face consequences including
monetary fines and possible jail time.
In spite of potentially costly penalties, regulated firms have been
slow to adopt the type of business record-related rules and policies detailed
in Chapter 3. Only 34 percent of organizations have e-mail record
retention policies and schedules in place, and merely 13 percent of companies
retain and archive business record IM, according to American
Management Association/ePolicy Institute research.5
Among regulated employees, 43 percent either don't adhere to regulatory
rules governing e-mail retention or they simply do not know if
they are in compliance.6 Overall, 43 percent of workers can't distinguish
business-critical e-mail and IM that must be retained from insignificant
messages that may be purged.7
It's no surprise that employees are confused and employers ill-prepared
when it comes to the management of all-important ESI. Only 21
percent of companies provide employees with a formal definition of
''electronic business record.''8
This book is designed to educate employers and users about the
importance of establishing and complying with rules and policies governing
electronic business record retention, deletion, and archiving, as well
as overall electronic risk management. Strategic business record retention
and deletion rules and policies are essential for all employers, regardless
of industry, size, or status as public or private entities.
Employ Tougher Rules to Combat Growing Risks
Along with increased risk, there has been growing awareness among
employers of the devastating impact that inappropriate electronic content
and unprofessional behavior--accidental or intentional--can have
on users' careers and the corporate bottom line. Consequently, employers
are increasingly putting teeth in their electronic policies.
In 2007, more than a quarter of employers (28 percent) fired employees
for e-mail misuse. That's double the 14 percent reported just
six years earlier in 2001. An additional 30 percent of bosses terminated
workers for Internet violations in 2007, according to the 2007 Electronic
Monitoring and Surveillance Survey from American Management Association
and ePolicy Institute.9.