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Everybody’s surfing: Social networking at work

Everybody’s surfing: Social networking at work

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Everybody’s surfing: Social networking at work

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  1. Everybody’s surfing:Social networking at work Thorsten Lauterbach Department of Law

  2. Agenda • Social networking sites • Why use them? • SNS at the workplace • The law – framework rather than solutions • Policies and education • Conclusions

  3. The many faces of web surfing • Facebook, Bebo, MySpace, LinkedIn • YouTube – info-sharing sites • Scomi Oiltools Digger Spin, Peterhead, March 2008 • http://www.stv.tv/content/news/headlines/display.html?id=opencms:/news/newArticle8903472 • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ju8m4Y2Hf6w • Blogs – online diaries, opinion columns • “Waterstone's throws book at blogger”, 2005 • http://www.woolamaloo.org.uk/ • Ebay – personal shopping and auction sites

  4. Perils • ENISA Report 2007 • Spending too much time on SNS • Individual privacy concerns • Inviting computer viruses into the business • Disseminating confidential information • Cyber-bullying and harassment; posting of defamatory messages

  5. Business usage & benefits? • Establishing of professional contacts; often key business resource (e.g. LinkedIn) • Usage of SNS instead of face-to-face meetings within and amongst businesses • Vetting of existing and/or prospective employees (socially/morally acceptable?) • “e-footprint” being left by SNS users

  6. Restricting Use of SNS • Technology available to block sites • ... but there are too many! • No clear way of identifying which sites should be blocked as ‘time-wasting’ • Difficult to establish what is ‘business use’ against ‘personal use’ • Professionals take dim view on external restrictions on Internet access (mistrust; assumption that staff cannot be trusted)

  7. Monitoring use & content • Data Protection Act 1998 • Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 • Data Protection Codes of Practice issued by the Information Commissioner • Telecommunications (Lawful Business Practice) (Interception of Communications) Regulations 2000 • European and UK-based human rights legislation

  8. What does this mean in practice? • Businesses need to make all employees aware of the nature and extent of any monitoring and the reasons for it • Monitoring must be conducted in a proportionate manner and in a way which preserves the privacy of an individual insofar as possible: at the least intrusive level vis-à-vis the purpose of the monitoring • Impact assessment: • who monitors, and are they aware of their legal obligations • monitoring for which purposes • how will the information from the monitoring be used and stored

  9. Employment tribunal decisionsresist bans or similar knee-jerk reactions • Best to resist bans or similar knee-jerk reactions • Taylor v Somerfield Stores Ltd 24 July 2007, Aberdeen • Sanderson v Dixon Wilson (2006) • Simonetti v Delta Airlines (2004) • Goudie v Royal Bank of Scotland (2004)

  10. Solutions? • Outright ban of SNS use at workplace • Allen & Overy; Argos • Reasonable usage permissible • Education – awareness of concerns • Staff development • Education – internet use policy • Clear guidelines of what is permitted and what isn’t • Clear guidelines on possible sanctions and levels of seriousness • Embracing SNS via internet use policy and education – be proactive, not reactive: • Meall, L. “Risk and reward” Accountancy 2008, (Aug), 75-76

  11. Indicative bibliography • Yeoman, A. “Facing up to Facebook” Comps. & Law 2007, 18(4), 30-32 • Delaney, A. “Online misconduct” Emp.L.B. 2008, 84(Apr), 4-5 • Westbrooke, A. “Surf and Skive: Work and Play” Comps. & Law 2008, • Bradshaw, M “Monitoring Employee Internet Use” Comps. & Law 2008, • Armstrong, N. “Blog and be damned?” N.L.J. 2008, 158(7312), 387 • James, Steven, “SNS: regulating the online “Wild West” of Web 2.0”, Ent. L.R. 2008, 19(2), 47-50 • http://www.out-law.com (Pinsent Masons online)