Guide outlines Net usage risks

A business information guide that examines state and federal legislation and business risks relating to content security, the circulation of e-mails and Internet usage by employees made its debut today.

The information guide, Legal and Commercial Issues for E-mail Communication and Internet Usage, was commissioned by Clearswift, a provider of software for managing and securing electronic communications, to help raise awareness of corporate responsibility and legal obligations relating to the use of e-mail or the Internet in the workplace.

Chy Chuawiwat, managing director, Clearswift Asia Pacific, said the guide is an educational piece -- not political.

"It's not calling for action or pushing for new legislation. But it tells the public, and business people, what their liabilities are, as an example if one of your employees looks at porn online, and who is in trouble," Chuawiwat said. (The guide is online at Chuawiwat said the guide was prepared a few years ago, but the latest version has been revised and updated, and re-issued by Chuawiwat and Peter Knight, a partner at Clayton Utz and author of the guide.

"We'll keep the guide up to date with new trends and legislation in industry. It's available free for people to download from our Web site." Chuawiwat said the guide is an invaluable resource for executives involved in all aspects of an organisation's IT security, including CEOs, CSOs, CIOs, HR directors and IT managers.

According to Clearswift research, 50 per cent of bandwidth used in companies goes to non-business related information coming into or circulating throughout an organisation.

Chuawiwat said e-mail and the Internet are easy and impersonal forms of communication and are more prone to accidents than other media which means employees are more likely to become involved in inappropriate or illegal behaviour.

He said this can be extremely dangerous to an employer in terms of legal liability and corporate fraud.

"Many organisations are unaware of the risks until something goes wrong. Our information guide explains the legislation, the risks and how businesses can address the dangers before they arise, with particular focus on the importance of taking extra measures that protect employers and their staff with a clearly articulated policy on e-mail and Internet use in the workplace," Chuawiwat said.