Ashley Madison And Your Company’s Email Policies

What does your company and Ashley Madison have in common?  Hopefully nothing.  For those of you who do not know, Ashley Madison is an adultery website.  The website was recently hacked and private emails were released.  The releasing of the emails uncovered the fact that many people visiting the website were using corporate or government email addresses.  An employee visiting such a website could be opening up the company’s computer network for viruses, spam and malware.  I imagine that a company likes to get free publicity but probably not the publicity generated if the company email account has been used to register on websites that specialize in adultery.

Companies should have in place email, Internet and social media policies.  The purpose of these policies is to educate employees on proper and acceptable email, Internet and social media practices.  If an employee has been issued a company email address to use when sending company related communications, then the company should explain to the employee and put the employee on notice that the company email address should only be used for official company business.  Employees should not send emails that contain anything that could be construed as harassment or shows disrespect for others, defames or slanders others.  The company should also inform its employees that they should have no expectation of privacy in emails that the employee sends or receives.  The employee should not use the company email address to communicate with family and friends.  In short, an email should not be sent if the sender of the email does not want to explain the content of the email to a judge.

The company should also inform its employees that they should not access websites that are not work related.  Employees should be instructed not to visit websites that contain pornographic material or any website that discriminates or disparages any people.  Along with an Internet policy, the company should also have a social media policy.  The social media policy should provide instruction and guidance as to the employees that have responsibility to interact with Internet users over social media, which social media platforms the company wants to use to engage its customers, the company’s social media strategy, the general content to be included in social media posts and whether any posts will be reviewed prior to posting.

Once the company implements these policies, the company now needs to ensure compliance.  The employees should be informed that the company will monitor employee computers, Internet usage and email communications.  Email messages may be stored and retrieved at a later date.

In short, it is a good practice for a company to implement, monitor and update these policies on a regular basis in order to educate its employees as to appropriate email, Internet and social media usage.  These policies may contribute to keeping your company name out of the spotlight for the wrong reasons.

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Chris Corpus

Founding Partner at Corpus Law Inc

This article does not provide legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about this topic or if you have other legal questions, do not hesitate to contact Chris Corpus, Esq. of Corpus Law Inc at 216-973-2475. Copyright Christopher A. Corpus 2016.