Do your employees treat your computers as if they were personal computers? If so, you’ve got a problem. In addition to losses in productivity, employees surfing the Internet for non-business purposes and sending personal e-mails to friends increases the risk that your network will be infected by a computer virus and that you’ll be sued for what you’re employees are doing online. Remember that you’re the one with the deep pockets to sue…not your employees. Three guesses who gets sued if an employee harasses someone with an e-mail sent from firstname.lastname@example.org.
You’ll want to adopt a comprehensive employee computer policy that your employees read every time they log in to your computers and have the employees sign company computer use policies in which they acknowledge they understand your policies and agree to obey them. Depending on the jurisdiction, this may include an acknowledgment that there are no privacy rights for their use of your equipment and that you have the right to monitor online browsing activities and read all incoming and outgoing emails. Your Internet lawyer will be able to draft the particular language you’ll need to protect yourself.