Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Keeping out of Cyber Strife; There Have Been Many High-Profile Cases of Companies Being Caught out by the Way Staff Have Used the Company Email

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Keeping out of Cyber Strife; There Have Been Many High-Profile Cases of Companies Being Caught out by the Way Staff Have Used the Company Email

Article excerpt

Byline: WENDY LEDGER

THE company email, internet and intranet systems are now integral parts of every office and nearly all office-based workers are using these forms of communication throughout the course of their work.

But, according to Tarlo Lyons, a technologies and communications law firm, it is fraught with legal difficulties.

Email may be a revolutionary method of communication but it is an insecure medium and many employees and employers are still unsure about where they stand when it comes to the legal implications.

Unfortunately, the main problem is that when people send emails, many feel free to express opinions they would not normally commit to paper. The reach of email has extended beyond the boundaries of the company, to anybody who has an internet address.

This can include clients, suppliers, allies, competitors, as well as anyone who could fall into those categories in the future plus friends and family. While email is a written document, users have a more casual approach to how they use this form of communication.

There have been many high-profile cases of companies being caught out by the way their staff have used the company email and, as a result companies need to be concerned about the potential to be unknowingly liable for the material t h at e m p l oye e s c o u l d b e circulating.

Warren Foot, head of Taro Lyons' employment law group, says: "If an email sent within or from a company is considered to be offensive, to infringe on copyright or trademark, is leaking personal data or confidential information, legal action could be taken by those adversely affected by it."

The situation has been further complicated by the regulation that now surrounds modern business communication and privacy of the individual.

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 restricts an employer's ability to intercept communications, even though employers are still liable for emails under their company names.

The Human Rights Act also protects employee's rights to privacy and the Data Protection Act restricts the use of personal data relating to employees.

The conflict of privacy versus liability makes it difficult for employers to safeguard their position when it comes to electronic communication. …

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