Stemming Internet abuse

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Sep 01, 2006

We'll soon have Internet services available for employees to use for ordering. We've said that personal use isn't allowed, but should I add this to the clinic's policy manual? What should I include?

"It's a good idea to have a written electronic media policy," says Kerry Richard, JD, a lawyer with Tobin, O'Connor, Ewing & Richard in Washington, D.C. Many of these policies, she says, are long and detailed, but here are the key elements:

  • a statement that the computers, e-mail, voice mail, Internet, and other forms of electronic communication provided by the clinic belong to the clinic and are intended solely for business purposes
  • a notice that the clinic may monitor any and all of the above forms of communication, and thus, employees should not consider them private
  • a statement prohibiting employees from using any of the clinic-provided forms of communication to engage in any illegal activity, to view or send sexually inappropriate or other offensive material, to download any music, games or programs, or to upload or transmit any sensitive clinic information.
  • Some policies also include information about computer security, passwords, network settings, and record retention policies.


Kerry Richard
"Although most employees use their computers and the Internet for some personal business, it's an area that's subject to significant abuse," says Richard. "A written policy reduces the risk; most employees will comply. For those who don't, a clear policy gives you added confidence so you can swiftly address the problem."