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American Bar Association

ABA Section of Business Law

A sample company policy on e-mail and Internet usage

Company computers, computer files, the e-mail system, Internet access and the software furnished to employees are company property and are to be used for company business only, and not for personal use to communicate with friends or family or to access the Internet for personal purposes. (or: While use of the computer, e-mail and Internet is intended for job-related activities, incidental and occasional brief personal use is permitted within reasonable limits, so long as it does not interfere with the employee's work.)

The company specifically prohibits the use of computers (including Internet access) and the e-mail system in ways that are disruptive, offensive to others or harmful to morale, including sexually explicit messages, images and cartoons, ethnic slurs, racial comments, off-color jokes or anything that could be construed as harassment or shows disrespect for others, defames or slanders others, or otherwise harms another person or business.

Employees may not access the Internet to log onto any Web sites that contain any such material, including any pornographic Web site, or any Web site that contains any discriminatory message, or disparages any group. Employees may not use computers or the e-mail system for commercial messages of any kind or for messages of a religious or political nature, chain letters, solicitations, gambling or other inappropriate usage. E-mail and Internet access should be used in such a way that all transmissions, whether internal or external, are accurate, appropriate, ethical and lawful.

Illegal duplication of software or violation of copyright laws by the duplication or sharing of software, or the distribution of copyrighted material, is strictly forbidden. Also, an employee should not use a password, access a file or retrieve a stored communication that is not normally accessible to that employee.

In order to enforce these policies, computer, Internet and e-mail usage may be monitored by the company, including retrieving and reading e-mail messages and other computer files, and monitoring of Internet traffic. Therefore, e-mail messages and other use of the company's computers is not confidential, and even though you may be issued a private password or other private access code to log in to the computer, you should have no expectation of privacy with regard to your use of the system.

Employees should immediately notify their supervisor or manager of any violations of this policy. Employees who violate this policy will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.

— Sindy J. Policy

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