Mobile rights and responsibilities

Mobile telecoms networks cover virtually everywhere in the nation and this means that you will able to connect to your network...

Mobile telecoms networks cover virtually everywhere in the nation and this means that you will able to connect to your network LAN from almost anywhere by the appropriate methodology. That also means that your mobile workers could be putting your company at risk from almost anywhere. 

Before you embrace the new mobile world, your company should constructing acceptable usage policies (AUPs) about how you use your wireless technology. Your company is liable for anything that travels across your network and that includes wireless networks. 

Potentially your company could be at risk from accusations of discrimination, libel, sexual harassment and more. Ian Tranter, a partner in the employment practice of law firm Hammonds, explains. " Issues fall into two categories: one is down time, where the employees are using the bandwidth in the system for private use [and] clogging up the system from being able to deal with data that is business related. The more salacious issue is pornography which can be a criminal offence, if it is child pornography. If it is only adult material, it can be offensive and lead to a hostile office environment which if not properly dealt with can precipitate claims for sexual harassment where there is no limit on the amount of damages a court could award."

Tranter knows from experience that the problems start by companies not having an acceptable usage policy (AUG) for Internet and email resources. This can simply be part of the terms and conditions of employment for employees. He says: "If you have an acceptable use policy it's likely to say that accessing any unsavoury sites or passing on unsavoury emails from internal or external sources can be regarded as a disciplinary matter and then you tie that to the disciplinary policy and procedure." With wireless networks, your potential for problems is probably greater and your company should have a governance policy that addresses the use of wireless networks. Anything that is restricted or prohibited in the internal environment should also be forbidden on mobile networks.

Analyst Giga Group recommends that wireless governance policies should deal with four key questions. These are: 

  •  How you restrain your [network] usage with respect to the privacy of the public
  •  How your company will protect information about your employees, incidentally gathered in the course of using technology, from abuse
  •  How your company will train employees in the appropriate use of employer-provided technology and enforce appropriate use, as well as considering its liability for employee actions
  •  Finally, how your companies will comply with data protection and human rights legislation

The technology exists for your company to set up a wireless network that prevents users from accessing certain web sites and downloading certain content. It is also possible to adopt tactic to lessen possible affects and your policies should be updated to reflect new mobile and wireless technology. You could, for example, separate physically your wireless network from the main corporate network, and insist that users work through a secure web portal. 

In the case of wireless hotspots, where users may not be aware of being bound by AUPs in the same way as internal employees, your firm should implement different methods of informing users of their responsibilities. However the key is to balance risk prevention-that is preventing your business from the risk of prosecution-with usability. To provide something totally secure against every eventually, would effectively be commercially unusable. If the wireless network is totally locked down and severe limitations put in place, it may be the case that the presumed benefits that wireless working could offer wont be realised. 

Education is both beneficial for your company and motivating for employees. Your should ensure that your business communicates its policies, procedures and their role in keeping business information and systems safe. Essentially with deft planning and management, with respect to clearly thought out usage policies, you can ensure that your wireless network delivers benefit for your business and doesn't actually prove to be a burden.

This article was part of Computer Weekly's enterprise mobile business channel, sponsored by Nokia 

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