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Misusing the Company’s Internet is Stealing


Personal use of the internet at work is one of the top issues in which employers and organization must carefully police. Online gambling, downloading illegal files, and viewing pornography and illicit websites on the company internet could be serious offenses and may lead to disciplinary action – even termination. This is tantamount to stealing from the employer.

Time theft, or the act of doing something other than work at work, is one of the leading issues employers deal with everyday at workplaces around the country. It is estimated that some employees spend half of their day doing non-work related items on the internet while at work. Some use the internet for personal use, such as paying bills or contacting people who are not associated with their workplace, such as relatives or friends. Employers are likely to let this slide if the employee doesn’t take advantage of the amount of time needed to complete these transactions or they limit it to when the employee is on a break.

Unfortunately, many employees take advantage of the company’s lenient stance on time theft and use their computers or WiFi connected mobile device to do things that are considered not safe for work. Porn and online gambling should never be done at work and are inappropriate no matter what the circumstances.

Downloading illegal files on the company internet is never considered appropriate. It could get the employee and the organization into legal trouble. All employees should consider how they would feel if they owned the company and their employees were stealing by not working while at work and using company resources illegally. Most people would be offended and upset by the amount of time being used to do things that do not benefit the company.

The lack of self control and common sense have lead to employers to take drastic steps in order to try to curb the use of the internet at work. Extreme policies may be put in effect that state no work can be done on the internet or computers that doesn’t directly benefit the company or could be considered pertinent to the job. These policies do not allow any personal use of the computer or web at all. It assumes that people cannot be trusted to self monitor, therefore they will not be allowed to decide for themselves.

Employers also have the option to install software that tracks the organization’s overall internet use, viewing which websites are being visited and by which device (i.e. they can trace the offending website back to you). The service then keeps a log of the types of sites the employee visits and with what frequency. It allows some access to certain types of services, but the employee must acknowledge that the site is suspicious by clicking a button that allows them access. These “nanny” services also completely block sites that have no use for work purposes such as online gambling, porn sites and potentially YouTube. No access choice is given for these and the computer warns that using such a site will be reported immediately to the employees supervisor or HR department. The employee would then be reprimanded or even terminated, depending on other circumstances and policy standards. These services can be customized and if an employee needs access, then they must clear that site with their HR department before going to the website. This system works well, but can be an expense some companies can’t afford.

Most companies expect a “fair day’s work, for a fair day’s pay” and using the web to look at or download inappropriate material the same as stealing money or supplies from the company. Most employees wouldn’t think of physically stealing, but have no problem stealing time and resources. The use of these policies and “nanny services” are a sad but true fact of doing business in a world where information is free and instant. It is not worth your job to misuse the internet and consider what life would be like if we didn’t have use of the web. Our jobs would be considerably harder and in some cases can not be performed unless we have access to the internet.

As a whole employees need to professionally consider that employers are willing to make life easier and when they are allowed use they should use the net properly and save the personal work for home.

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