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Company internet policy on my personal laptop

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#1 Bella B

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Posted 02 July 2011 - 07:31 PM

My company requires us to provide our own laptop. We had to sign an internet policy that says we cannot visit any unauthorized sites (I have no idea what this means) or download anything illegal. They didn't explain it very well but they did say that even if I am not connected to the company network, I could get in trouble. For instance, if I go home at night and download illegal movies, I could be fired. Apparently they can tell somehow? The next morning when I go hook up to the company network, how do they know?

I am NOT downloading anything illegal, but I don't know where to draw the line. I watch streaming video a lot on legitimate sites. This should be ok right?

I do not understand how they can tell what I did when I wasn't even hooked up to the company network.

can anyone explain?

Oh, and can they read my personal email? let's say I'm on my lunch hour & check my AOL mail. Can they read it?


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#2 rigel



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Posted 02 July 2011 - 08:24 PM

This sounds more like you need to be speaking with a personal/civil liberties lawyer.

My personal opinion - okay.

If this is your personal laptop that you purchased with you own money, then what you do at home is none of your work's business. When you connect that computer to a work network, or use internet services at home supplied by your place of employment, Then you must abide by their rules - or acceptable use policy (AUP).

With that said, what you do in your own time does reflect on your work place. I work for a school district. If an employee does something unprofessional - like get involved with a student via a messenger service or social networking site (at home - off the clock) like Facebook, then the employer can fire the employee for violating ethical behavior clauses. If you are not doing anything that isn't illegal in the eyes of the law, then I do not see where your workplace can supersede that on your own time.

Personal e-mail - If you are on their network, yes they can legally monitor it (read it). For our email - school email - we have to archive every e-mail that comes into our system for three years. Even if you use your own e-mail service, you are still using their network - corporate property - and they have the right to monitor. If you are in a secure area - development / corporate electronic properties then your will really be under a microscope as they protect vital corporate interests.

My words only scratch the surface.

I would advise you to get a copy of your work's AUP - in writing to make sure you understand everything being asked of you. Ask your supervisor for clarification of any policy you do not understand - in writing if necessary if needed.

Good luck... trust me when I say I am on the side of civil liberties.


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#3 Capn Easy

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 08:30 PM

You're in the US, right? In that case, if you were told this would be a "condition of employment" before you were hired then, yes, it probably is legal and probably can be enforced. Checking with a lawyer is always a good idea in order to understand the dynamics of the situation, and maybe to learn some other options.

If you simply want to ensure privacy with regard to internet use and email, it might be easiest to pick up an inexpensive used computer, and that would probably be cheaper than a consultation with a lawyer.

Good luck.

EDIT: By the way, please don't consider any of this as an indication that I believe your employer is being either reasonable or rational -- just that it's probably legal. I was in a similar position once, many years ago. Seriously, good luck.

Edited by Capn Easy, 06 July 2011 - 08:33 PM.

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