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Acceptable Use Policies

Acceptable Use Policies

• By Ashe Lockhart
• April 30, 1997

>> In 1997, I co-authored a Model Acceptable Use Policy for Corporate Internet Systems with several law school classmates who are identified on the policy web page. Although this was prepared some time ago, it offers a number of useful ideas to help companies set up policies to educate employees on appropriate and prohibited uses of a company’s technology assets.

Background: It is entirely reasonable for a business to want to have policies to protect the company from a wide assortment of potential problems – not the least of which is liability to a third party for the actions or misconduct of employees. Businesses that provide computers, email and Internet access to employees often establish policies for their employees’ use of company technology resources. In a manner of speaking, these acceptable use policies are not unlike a company’s policies for the employees’ use of a company vehicle.

For example, if an employee uses company email for an improper or illegal purpose, the company could be liable to a third party for the employee’s improper use of the company’s email system.  A company’s liability to a third party for the actions of the employee is called “vicarious liability,” which can be very costly and disruptive.

As I said in my post on Internet Service Providers and Third Party Liability, the law will take some time to catch up to contemporary use of internet technologies.  But a little awareness and planning may help avoid or minimize expensive problems.

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Ashe Lockhart – Principal

Ashe Lockhart
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