INTERNET AND E-MAIL USAGE POLICY
1 Introduction and Background
1.1 The Council provides access to the vast information resources of the Internet
to help you do your job and be well informed. The facilities that provide
access represent a considerable commitment of resources for
telecommunications, networking, software, data storage, etc. This Internet
and e-mail usage policy is designed to help you understand our expectations
for the use of those resources in the particular conditions of the Internet, and
to help you use those resources wisely.
1.2 This policy sets out explicit requirements to be considered when using the
Internet or e-mail. Our overall aims associated with this usage are as follows:-
• The Internet for this Council is a business tool, provided to you at
significant cost. That means we expect you to use your Internet access
primarily for business-related purposes, i.e., to communicate with
customers and suppliers, to research relevant topics and obtain useful
• We insist that you conduct yourself honestly and appropriately on the
Internet, and respect the copyrights, software licensing rules, property
rights, privacy and prerogatives of others, just as you would in any other
• All existing Council policies apply to your conduct on the Internet,
especially (but not exclusively) those that deal with intellectual property
protection, privacy, misuse of Council resources, sexual harassment,
information and data security, and confidentiality.
1.3 Unnecessary or unauthorised Internet usage causes network and server
congestion. It slows other users, takes away from work time, consumes
supplies, and ties up printers and other shared resources.
1.4 Unlawful Internet usage may also create negative publicity for the Council and
expose us to significant legal liabilities. The chats, newsgroups and e-mail on
the Internet give each individual Internet user an immense and unprecedented
reach to propagate Council messages. Because of that power we must take
special care to maintain the clarity, consistency and integrity of the Council’s
corporate image. Anything any one employee writes in the course of acting for
the Council on the Internet could be taken as representing the Council’s
1.5 While our direct connection to the Internet offers a wide range of potential
benefits, it can also open the door to some significant risks to our data and
systems if we do not follow appropriate security discipline. As presented in
greater detail below, that may mean preventing machines with sensitive data
or applications from connecting to the Internet entirely, or it may mean that
certain users must be prevented from using certain Internet features like file
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Updated: June 2003
transfers. The overriding principle is that security is to be everyone’s first
concern. Council employees can be held accountable for any breaches of
security or confidentiality.
1.6 The use of E-mail makes it easy for users to circulate messages and copy
internet content that, if misused, can lead to: -
• Misaddresed messages leading to breach of confidentiality
• Claims of sexual harassment and discrimination
• Copyright infringements
• Waste of ICT resources
• Increased network traffic
• Drain on storage capacity
2 Understanding the Terms
2.1 Certain terms in this policy should be understood expansively to include
• “Council” represents Staffordshire Moorlands District Council as the body
authorising Internet and e-mail usage.
• “User” is any individual using the Council’s Internet and e-mail facilities
and includes Members, officers, temporary and permanent employees.
• “Document” covers just about any kind of file that can be read on a
computer screen as if it were a printed page, including the so-called HTML
files read in an Internet browser, any file meant to be accessed by a word
processing or desk-top publishing program or its viewer, or the files
prepared for the Adobe Acrobat reader and other electronic publishing
• “Graphics” includes photographs, pictures, animations, movies, or
• “Display” includes monitors, flat-panel active or passive matrix displays,
monochrome LCDs, projectors, televisions and virtual-reality tools.
3 Authorised Use of Internet and E-Mail Services
3.1 A user’s connection to e-mail and/or internet services must be authorised by
the following: -
• The user’s Head of Service; and
• Head of ICT Services.
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Updated: June 2003
3.2 Internet connections should be provided by the Council’s approved Internet
service provider. Alternative connections may be allowed where there are
operational limitations to using the corporate approved connection. An
alternative must be approved and arranged by the ICT and Technical
3.3 Once a user is approved for access they will be issued with a user ID and
password. User IDs and passwords help maintain individual accountability for
Internet resource usage. Any Employee who obtains a password or ID for an
Internet resource from the Council must keep that password confidential.
Council policy prohibits the sharing of user IDs or passwords obtained for
access to Internet sites.
4 E-Mail Provisions
4.1 E-mails should be in the format indicated by the Council. Some guidance is
set out below. Further guidance will be developed in the future.
4.2 Each user is responsible for the content of all text, audio or images that they
place or send over the Council’s e-mail systems. No e-mail should be sent
which hides the identification of the sender or represents the sender as
someone else. All external messages sent must contain the users real name,
position, telephone number and the Authority’s name. This can easily be
achieved using the signature function.
4.3 E-mail communications, either internal or external, are not guaranteed to be
confidential. Users must ensure that personal or other sensitive information
sent via E-mail is password protected or encrypted. The provisions of data
protection legislation must also be observed and the data protection policy of
the Council followed.
4.4 All E-mails and their attachments should have the following statement at the
“This E-mail and any attachments are the copyright of Staffordshire
Moorlands District Council and intended only for the recipient. Their contents
are confidential and should not be disclosed to any third parties.
The Staffordshire Moorlands District Council accepts no responsibility for
information unrelated to the business of the Council. If you are not the named
recipient and you have received this E-mail please notify Staffordshire
Moorlands District Council immediately. This E-mail and any response to it
may be monitored on behalf of the Council.”
4.5 E-mail messages constitute records of the Council and as such will be
monitored and accessed accordingly.
4.6 Users must not send unsolicited, unlawful, irrelevant or inappropriate e-mail.
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Updated: June 2003
4.7 Users must not abuse others via e-mail even if in response to abuse aimed at
4.8 Users must not use e-mail to sexually harass or to threaten anyone in any
4.9 If a message is sent to multiple addresses this should be reflected in the body
of the message.
4.10 If a user receives a message in error, the sender should be informed
4.11 Users are encouraged to practise good housekeeping in terms of saving and
storing e-mails received. Old data will be purged from time to time which will
result in the deletion of all documents over a certain age.
4.12 In general the sending and receiving of personal e-mails is discouraged, but if
necessary they should be kept to an absolute minimum and should in no way
disrupt the activities of the Council.
5 Internet Policy Provisions
5.1 The Council has software and systems in place that monitor and record all
Internet usage. Our security systems are capable of recording (for each and
every user) each World Wide Web site visit, each chat, newsgroup or e-mail
message, and each file transfer into and out of our internal networks. Our
managers will review general Internet activity and analyse usage patterns,
and they may choose to publicise this data to assure that Council Internet
resources are devoted to maintaining the highest levels of productivity.
Detailed monitoring will only take place in accordance with procedures to be
5.2 The Council reserves the right to inspect any and all files stored in private
areas of our network in order to assure compliance with policy.
5.3 The display of any kind of sexually explicit image or document on any Council
system is a violation of our policy on sexual harassment. In addition, sexually
explicit material must not be archived, stored, distributed, edited or recorded
using our network or computing resources. Any breach of this policy will result in
5.4 The Council uses independently supplied software and data to identify
inappropriate or sexually explicit Internet sites. We may block access from within
our networks to all such sites that we know of. If you find yourself connected
accidentally to a site that contains sexually explicit or offensive material, you must
disconnect from that site immediately, regardless of whether that site had been
previously deemed acceptable by any screening or rating program.
5.5 This Council’s Internet facilities and computing resources must not be used to
violate the laws and regulations of England and Wales or any other country. Use
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Updated: June 2003
of any Council resources for illegal activity is grounds for disciplinary action, and
the Council will co-operate with any legitimate law enforcement activity.
5.6 Any software or files downloaded via the Internet into the Council network
become the property of the Council. Any such files or software may be used only
in ways that are consistent with their licenses or copyrights.
5.7 No employee may use Council facilities to download or distribute pirated
software or data.
5.8 No employee may use the Council’s Internet facilities to propagate any virus,
worm, Trojan horse, or trap-door program code.
5.9 No employee may use the Council’s Internet facilities to disable or overload any
computer system or network, or to circumvent any system intended to protect the
privacy or security of another user.
5.10Each employee using the Internet facilities of the Council shall identify himself or
herself honestly, accurately and completely (including one’s Council affiliation
and function where requested) when participating in chats or newsgroups.
5.11Only those employees or officials who are authorised to speak to the media, to
analysts or at public gatherings on behalf of the Council may speak or write using
the Internet facilities of the Council. Where an individual participant is identified
as an employee or agent of this Council, the employee must refrain from any
political advocacy and must refrain from the unauthorised endorsement or
appearance of endorsement by the Council of any commercial product or service
not provided by this Council.
Only those managers and Council officials who are authorised to speak to the
media, to analysts or in public gatherings on behalf of the Council may grant
such authority to newsgroups or chat room participants.
5.12The Council retains the copyright to any material posted to any forum,
newsgroup, chat or World Wide Web page by any employee in the course of his
or her duties.
5.13Employees authorised to use chats and newsgroups are reminded that chats
and newsgroups are public forums where it is inappropriate to reveal confidential
Council information, customer data and any other material covered by existing
Council secrecy policies and procedures. Employees releasing such confidential
information via a newsgroup or chat, whether or not the release is inadvertent,
may be subject to disciplinary action as provided in existing Council policies and
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Updated: June 2003
5.14Use of Council Internet access facilities to commit infractions such as misuse of
Council assets or resources, sexual harassment, unauthorised public speaking
and misappropriation of intellectual property are also prohibited by general
Council policy and procedures.
5.15Because a wide variety of materials may be considered offensive by colleagues,
customers or suppliers, it is a violation of Council policy to store, view, print or
redistribute any document or graphic file that is not directly related to the user’s
job or the Council’s business activities.
5.16 Employees with Internet access must take particular care to understand the
copyright, trade-mark, libel, slander and public speech control laws of all
countries, so that our use of the Internet does not inadvertently violate any
laws which might be enforceable against us. Information given over the
Internet is also subject to Data Protection legislation and the Councils Data
Protection policy must be followed.
5.17 Employees with Internet access may download only software with direct
business use, and must arrange to have such software properly licensed and
registered. Downloaded software must be used only under the terms of its
5.18 Employees with Internet access must not use Council Internet facilities to
download entertainment software (including music) or games, or to play
games against opponents over the Internet, or to download images or videos
unless there is an express business-related use for the material.
5.19 Employees with Internet access must not use Council Internet facilities to
download images or videos unless there is an express business-related use
for the material.
5.19 Employees with Internet access must not upload any software licensed to the
Council or data owned or licensed by the Council without the express
authorisation of the manager responsible for the software or data.
5.20 Employees may use their internet facilities for non-business research or
browsing during lunch-time or outside of work hours, provided that all other
usage policies are adhered to
6.1 Employees should schedule communications-intensive operations such as
large files transfers, video downloads, mass e-mailings and the like outside of
normal office hours.
6.2 Any file that is downloaded must be scanned for viruses before it is run or
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Updated: June 2003
6.3 The Council has installed an Internet firewall to assure the safety and security of
the Council’s Networks. Any employee who attempts to disable, defeat or
circumvent any Council security facility will be subject to normal disciplinary
procedures, but could be deemed to be gross misconduct.
6.4 Files containing sensitive Council data, as defined by existing corporate data
security policy, that are transferred in any way across the Internet, must be
encrypted. Guidance on encryption will be provided.
6.5 Only those Internet services and functions with documented business purposes
for this Council will be enabled at the Internet firewall.
Abuse of these facilities by employees may result in disciplinary action in accordance
with the Authority’s disciplinary policies and procedures.
Section 5 - 16 - Originated: March 2002
Updated: June 2003