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back to article Staff internet policies must be Facebook-ready, warns expert

Dealing with staff who misbehave on the web may be hampered by office policies written without Web 2.0 sites in mind, an employment expert has said. The warning follows disciplinary action against 18 police officers who boasted about crashes on Facebook. Employment law specialist Ben Doherty of Pinsent Masons, the law firm …

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Don't need no title ...

"many office policies are written with only email use and website access in mind and need to be updated."

If indeed they weren't written as such already.

My employer has an internet usage policy (partially drafted by me) which makes it clear, amongst other things, that MyBookFaceSpace[tm] and friends are blocked at the router. No complaints so far, not that it would make much difference if there were, mind ;-)

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Barmy

So not only does a company own your working life, they now own your private life? Where will this stop?

If you work for a car manufacturer, can you only drive their cars or you will be fired?

Supermarket staff can't shop in a rivals store?

Surely the company is only entitled to what they pay for 9-5:30!

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I'm left puzzled

Normally, I might think a company having policies on what its employees say about it, regardless of when or where, could just be common sense (yes yes I know about freedom of speech blah blah blah - but let's just set that aside for the moment and say that if you don't agree with such a policy, you don't have to work for said company)

However, the example used in the story makes me think it could be a valuable tool. It seems to have exposed some questionable personality traits of these officers. (Personally, I like my police to be calm and collected - being thrilled about a wreck is distasteful to me). I can't help but think that where the public sector is involved, restrictions of this nature may not be in the public's best interest.

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Anonymous Coward

I'm sorry.... Web 2.0?

"...may be hampered by office policies written without Web 2.0 sites in mind"

"...They're too focused on Web 1.0 sites."

Did I read this right? Did YOU read it? What the hell has "Web 2.0" got to do with anything? I thought "Web 2.0" was to do with stuff like AJAX and other such bollo.., er, I mean, buzz words. Now (if this story is anything to go by) it seems it means any web site that you can post stuff up to! Have I misunderstood?

So does that mean usenet (dates back to the late 70's for those that don't know) was and is actually "Web 2.0". WOW - they were WELL ahead of their time.

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Words of advice?

like;

"Stop being a TWAT, you're supposed to be a responsible law enforcement officer."

or;

"Don't do it again, you dickhead"

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Anonymous Coward

What has...

...that got to do with IT policies at work? Workplace rules and customs about bringing the organisation into disrepute surely apply to whatever medium is used to cause that damage.

Just because the IT policy doesn't say "Don't post compromising pictures to Facebook" (which was a web site, last time I looked, so covered by any provisions requiring proper conduct on web sites, and not in need of any specific mention) doesn't make it all right to do so.

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Anonymous Coward

Written warning via My Space

Did they deliver the wrtten warnings and words of advice on My Space?

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Coat

Oh No ....

... and there I was planning to start a Facebook group for plods that had managed to arrest/harass/embarrass an innocent snapper.

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Stupidity...

Those people stupid enough to show what an idiot they are on a public website (where many people actually have their own boss on their friends list) frankly deserve to get caught out.

I never saw the group so I cannot possibly comment on the nature of it, but it definitely sounds like it would be a bad idea as far as career progression goes.

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not sure why thsi has taken so long

Anyone who works inthe private sector already knows that if you can at any time be deemed to be representing the company, wearing an id badge/uniform/well know in general. You do not do anything publically that will reflect badly on the company.

This is nothing to do with web 2.0, if they'd been in a local pub passing around photo's opf themselves posing next to car crashes i'd expect complaints and disciplinary action too

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Down anyway....

Right now, it's down :)

London, UK Http error:Http_client.Bad_message("Unknown reason (e.g. unexpected eof, timeout)") 40.14 sec 69.63.184.28 Humble Hosting Ltd

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Anonymous Coward

hypocrisy

How come if they are boasting on faceache about it, it's not acceptable, but if it goes out on national television and is called World's Wildest Police Smashups or similar, that's considered quality television? And they get to film in public without prejudice, but taking photos of buses leads to bogus claims that it's illegal?

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Black Helicopters

ITs wrong, just plain wrong

What I do in my own time with my own resources is none of my company's business. If give them cause for a slander/libel claim against me, well then ok, take action on that, but otherwise stay out of my personal life. I won't piss in a jar for you either. Damn, where do I have live to get away from this shite? What ever happened to personal freedom, free speech, the right to be safe and secure from unreasonable searches of ones person and property. Damn I just hate the way this is going, no wonder terrorists exist. This is how revolutions get started.

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Personal vs professional

"What I do in my own time with my own resources is none of my company's business. "

Well that's true, and I suppose everyone agrees with you. But *this* case of cop crashers was totally job-related and continued to be even after the officers clocked out. People wonder whatarethepoliceupto and whoisrunningthisshow and ohmygodthinkofthechildren because of what uniformed employees are doing online. As was said above, if they were passing around crash pictures at the bar after work they'd be reprimanded too. The claptrap about Web 2.0 is as stupid in this context as all others.

Now if the website was talking up officers' fondness for Yanni tunes (a far more egregious offence IMHO) then you'd be completely justified in your outrage, as it's not related to on-the-job dumb.

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Coat

My home life is MINE

An employer pays me for what I do IN THE OFFICE and IN WORK TIME. What I do in my home life is OF NO FSCKING INTEREST to an employer.

If, however, I break the law (and let's be honest, New Labour is trying to make everyone capable of individual thought a criminal) and am found guilty by due legal process if my contract of employment says "if you get sent down you're fired" then the employer has a reason to act.

Any employer trying to claim it has dominion over my private life gets told to fsck right off.

A stupid and poorly thought out piece of work there. To advocate that an employer has the right to say what you can and cannot do outside of work is obscene.

Any sensible company has policies in place covering acceptable use of ICT provision in the workplace.

MIne is the coat saying "I'm not a number, I am a free man!" (which I know is bollocks in Gordongrad)

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@Chris

"How come if they are boasting on faceache about it, it's not acceptable, but if it goes out on national television and is called World's Wildest Police Smashups or similar, that's considered quality television?"

It's not considered "quality television"; it's considered "cheap television" to fill up "Virgin 1" and the bits of "Dave" not occupied by Top Gear.

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@Mike

You are absolutely right, what you do on your time is your business. This article talks about what PCs did on government time using government property. Hmm... If they are wrecking $30k BMW police cruisers, then getting time off for injuries as workman's compensation, and causing damage/injury to citizens that needs to be paid for by the government, then it looks like what they are doing is taking your 17% VAT, your council tax, your astronomical income tax, and basically posting it on facebook (If police funding only comes out of one of these taxes or a different tax altogether, please don't flame). That, I have issues with and would not move to ANY country that condoned that type of fiscal "responsibility".

If, however, I am expected to act like I am at work in my social life, then I better get paid for such behavior. I'll forgo the language, the rock star lifestyle, the booze, etc. for a price. A VERY hefty price, but we had better be clear about that up front when I am evaluating the position and they are evaluating me. At least the speed cameras and sleeping policemen don't maliciously spend my hard earned...

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Happy

"... office policies written without Web 2.0 sites in mind ..."

Right, like making your IT policy web-2.0 ready is soooo difficult:

===================================================================

$ diff -U12 it-policy-1.0.txt it-policy-2.0.txt

--- it-policy-1.0.txt 2008-06-25 18:44:10.742129000 +0100

+++ it-policy-2.0.txt 2008-06-25 18:44:27.914223800 +0100

@@ -71,24 +71,25 @@

of such use is the downloading, viewing, listening to, posting, or circulation of information, e-mail messages, images, audio files or other data which are or which $MYCOMPANY may reasonably consider to be offensive or inappropriate. This will include material which is or could be perceived as being:

obscene or pornographic; or

racist, sexist or discriminatory or offensive in any other way (including, but not limited to, on grounds of disability, sexual orientation, age, or religion); or

politically extreme; or

defamatory; or

untrue, abusive or malicious; or

bullying or harassment.

+NO EFFING BADGERS!

The question of what constitutes offensive material is not one for the sender to determine - it is the effect on the recipient which is important.

Users should not therefore pass on any material which even risks causing offence to any recipient. Whether or not the user intends to cause offence and whether or not the user himself finds the material offensive is irrelevant. For this reason the circulation of e-mails and other materials containing strong language or jokes is not permitted.

The IT Department shall periodically audit passwords for security, and if

===================================================================

Job done!

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LOL

'LOL I've had a Polcol' would have made a much more fetching title. N00bs.

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Which is worse

I don't know which is worse --

1) The fact that these idiots are bragging about crashes they've been in. I bet if they had to pay their own car insurance like we peons do, they wouldn't brag about it or think it's so funny or impressive.

2) The fact that these idiots are police officers, and thus have a lot of power to wield (legitimate power enforcing actual laws, and illegitimate power used to unlawfully intimidate and harass people, illegally cite people, partake in police brutality, etc).

3) The fact that police collisions are so common that there is slang for it.

I'm told there was a time when police officers were respected, with good reason. They actually took their jobs seriously and wanted to help people. They were willing to put their lives on the line (and sacrifice themselves, if necessary) in order to protect the public. I have no doubt there are still some officers who live by those traits. I just wish I could see it first-hand so I could believe it instead of just hope it's still true.

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Words of advice.

"What was the first thing you found out in training?"

"Don't get caught, Sarge."

"SO WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING, POSTING ON FACEBOOK?? DO YOU WANT THE PUBLIC TO FIND OUT WHAT SORT OF PEOPLE ARE ON THE FORCE?"

"No, Sarge. Sorry, Sarge."

"Honestly, what's the point of making the public afraid to photograph us if you then go and do a thing like that? Alright, back to work."

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Paris Hilton

What I do outside of work is none of works business...

To all of those saying that.

Well, yes, and quite right too. If, for example, I come home from the Civil Service job, get wankered, and shag a fat burd in the park, and boast about it on 't net I don't expect to be up on a disciplinary for it, as that has nowt to do with work, and my Webinet 2.0 profile thingy doesn't mention my employer - just that I'm an IT screwdriver monkey.

However, if I were to go over to Whitehall for a meeting, get sloshed at lunchtime, have a piss in a park and a mate snaps me doing so, with my ID badge on and posts it in a 'Civil Servants Gone Mad' social networking group, then yes, I would expect to land in a world of hurt for it.

If I worked for Roche, and during work time went out in a works van and pranged it into a wall, and then laughed about it on 't net in a social networking group called 'BlueChip Staffers Funniest Company Car Shunts', along with pictures of the van with ROCHE plastered down the side, me beside it with a big thumbs up and a stupid grin, then I'd also expect to land in a world of hurt.

Reading the article and actually taking the contents in context will go a long way towards learning what the differences are between 'making poor choices in your personal life' and 'making poor choices while representing your employer'.

Idiots.

Steven R

Paris, because she could [just] beat a cauliflower in a challenge of wits, which is more than the authors of some comments on here by a long sea mile.

PS: As my colleagues and bosses read this site, the above examples are purely hypothetical. Although I did once wake up in the secure car park of Roche, WGC, with no idea how I got there after a particularly immature night out. But that's another story...

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Some musings...

First of all, I agree that what you do on the 'net at home should not be controlled by policies from work. Bad. (and work 'net policies should cover what *is* allowed, not what *isn't*. Makes it simpler to keep up to date)

Having said that, the idiots in questions were talking as private individuals about things they were doing *at work* as police officers. As such, their conversations were about items which *were* covered by the work policies.

This is as stupid as the idiots who post their speed-records on YouTube and wonder why the Police come knocking on their door. Have a bit of common sense: "Hi, my name is John Smith and I regularly screw my company over and here are pictures of me doing it" and you *seriously* think your company is *not* going to follow that up simply because you posted it from your home account?

To paraphrase Voltaire: I support your right to place items on the web (no matter how stupid I think them)... but I fully support the law-enforcement agencies using them against you if you are breaking the law.

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Anonymous Coward

Total agree about professionalism...

but I thought the article took a definite slant toward an individuals own time being in question here. That would be so wrong. WOW

I better read it again, I've been working all night.

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Flame

I for one welcome our new Volvo smashing rozzers

1) Best thing to do with a Volvo is break it

2) If they spend all their time crashing into trees etc it might mean I can go bit quicker on the M3 without having a "40 year old speed limit based on a car with 4 drum brakes and a pissed bloke driving it in the fog" imposed on me by someone with the intelligence and charisma of a Vogon.

Not that I got a ticket the other day or anything :)

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@ I'm left puzzled by Peyton

Ever been in a serious wreck? The endorphine rush provided is often enough to temporarily hide injuries among other things. It's like being high. Reactions are magnified, emotion heightened and, in most cases, judgement is impaired. If it's sufficiently high, even the memory creates a minor endorphine rush... so expecting someone who's been in a wreck (officer or otherwise) to be cool, calm and rational is less than realistic. However I agree that boasting about it on the net is foolish, especially posting pictures of it...

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Anonymous Coward

Police internet policies.

Polcol (police collision) is police jargon that I was not aware of. I assumed it was still called a Polacc (police accident). Of course they are not considered accidents anymore but collisions. Where there's blame, there's a claim.........Anyway I digress.

The trouble with a lot of younger coppers is that the job seems to get in the way of their social life.

I am aware that in the past some have sold uniform etc on ebay. One was in the papers having offered himself on a swingers site. He was pictured in his uniform including DPV (bullet/stab proof vest) with the force details clearly on show.

These are the sort of wankers that would post their exploits on the web.

My internet access at work is restricted but adequate, I know it wouldn't let me access youtube, facebook and the like from work so I don't bother. They'll be stopping us checking car registrations for our mates next.

(Joke!)

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