Privacy, Security, and Information Sharing, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Introduction

The above question has elicited so much talk, research, and discussions since the evolvement and exponential growth of social media. It is imperative that the communication via social media influences the employees’ social circles in the workplace. In the past few years, social media have undergone exponential growth with profound consequences for employers. Social media, as is characterized by interactivity, accessibility, and technology – include blogs, Internet forums, wikis, photo and video-sharing sites, and goes beyond social networking utilities like Twitter, MySpace, and Facebook (Vacca, 2009). The public, especially employees, has turned to these information sites with such speed. Many social media sites are accessible using mobile phone–based applications or, like Twitter, through mobile phone SMS messaging. This allows for immediate, and often public, broadcasting of users’ opinions, views, or conduct.

Social media risks to company images

It is noteworthy that by embracing the Social media technology the employees may inadvertently share personal information that may deem inconsistent with the core values, and objectives of the firm. When this happens, management may be forced to take serious actions on the employees, who may have posted all in ‘in good faith.’ Social media, for example Twitter, also provides an avenue for the workmates to share and discuss the work-related issues. In the light of this, an employee may conceal the confidential information of the firm, such as a pending acquisition, tender allocations or sensitive information to the media that harms the employer or raises securities law issues.

It is important for the management of the organization to recognize these risks. One recent survey showed that more than fifty percent of executives say they have “‘a right to know’ how their employees portray themselves and their organizations on the social media.” Only seventeen percent of the executives, however, said their company has a program for “monitoring risks related to social networks.”

This kind of method of looking into employees’ online conduct, combined with the ever-increasing presence of social media, creates a significant liability risk for employers. It gives the employees less advantage to deal with critical issues that tarnish the face of companies and organizations.

This research provides a sampling of U.S. state and federal laws that may affect a company’s monitoring of its employees’ involvement in social media. These laws can vary significantly between jurisdictions, so it is important that an employer discuss this subject with counsel (Vacca, 2009). Employees’ online communications may gain legal protection based on either the privacy or the substance of the communications. In order to avoid exposure to considerable liability, employers approach personal online conduct and apply that approach in both policy and practice.

Company policies on social media

It is pertinent for employers to play proactive roles in developing policies that encompass the use of social media by the employees. For instance, there is a case of improper use of social media by employees that was addressed. In a unionization drive, two employees posted information discovered as “very offensive and disrespectful comments regarding their supervisors,” on their personal Facebook accounts. Their jobs were terminated. This is because they were considered to have breached the privacy of their company that exposed their employers’ privacy since many people viewing their profiles would know of it. Social media and electronic communications raise unique issues for workplace privacy. Employees in the U.S. may derive privacy rights from an array of federal and state laws, which I feel, do not adequately protect them.

The number of Internet users U. S at over 104 million (Bélanger & Cossler, 2011); many of them use email and search the Web for information (80 percent). Every day, more than fifty million Americans go online as many have resorted to using the social media to engage in conversations all over the world. Researchers continue to argue that social media and Internet a tool for almost every human communication (Whitman & Mattord, 2010). Social media use has significantly increased to  the extent that it becomes so hard to single handedly regulate it.  The act touching on Communications Decency of 1996, as stipulated in the American Federal law outlaws the “indecent” communication in the social media. From then, U.S. Federal regulators, special interest groups, and legislators have continued to impose diverse regulations regarding the content to be accessed. This type of legislation does not provide straightforward legislation for social media adequately.

Computer and Cyber crime regulation

  • Computer crimes and regulations have become a major obstacle in providing better legislations and laws. This is because of computer illiteracy among lawyers, jurors, and police agents and cases involve the juveniles. Cyber laws and legislations should be enacted to govern such crimes. They include:
  • Certification and training of the Cyber personnel
  • The development of standardized certifications cum training. This is a provision that enables cyber owners to be thoroughly trained and awarded relevant certifications.
  • Training and professional certifications to cyber personnel of privately owned cyber cafes.
  • This will go a long way in mitigating such forms of crimes. While some argue against it, citing reasons as aforementioned will kill creativity and reduce innovations.

Regulating Electronic Communications

It is important to realize that, whether the workers are using the social media for the purpose of

communication with friends in, or outside the company, there should be clear rules. Those employees who may not understand the gravity of risks, mars the reputation of the employer when they post backward comments and information on social network sites  during work hours, or even non- work hours. Therefore, the workers need to understand the potential risks and what is required of them while in office.

Social media policies mostly depend on the company culture, the nature of work, and the nature of approach to social technology. In spite of these diverse approaches, there are basic issues that employers need to address while implementing social media policies (Whitman & Mattord, 2010)

Conclusions on future security practices and criminal liability

In anticipation of increased use of social media which effectively means increase in information sharing and commission of crimes, law enforcers need to take necessary steps to address this matter. It is important to note that social sites are proving to be difficult to regulate without relevant laws that bring sanity to these mediums. Future security practices could hamper tremendously innovations. That is a fact, but national security is as much critical in every sense. Information sharing is done just by a click of a button. Within seconds of its dissemination, it cannot be contained. Its implications cannot be underestimated, and security agencies need to treat it with the seriousness it deserves.

Holding a person liable to improper misuse of social media can only be achieved through formulation of effective federal laws. The FBI and the CIA should be the people to run cases of criminal liabilities; they need to be given more powers to effectively investigate and hand over their conclusions to the Attorney General’s office for federal prosecutions. Laws will be meaningless if they are only on paper. They are meaningless if social media owners and consumers break them with abandon and no relevant actions are taken.

Recommendations

  • Defamatory statements that taint the image of the company, customers, competitors, and employees will not be tolerated and will subject the individual to discipline
  • Proprietary and confidential company information
  • Discriminatory statements or sexual innuendos regarding management, customers, vendor’s co-workers.
  • Employees are required to act and carry themselves professionally both on and off duty.
  • Company policies that govern use of corporate logos and other branding and identity
  • Apply to electronic communications, and those individuals officially designated may “Speak” orally or in writing behalf of the company.
  • Employees at all times should comply with all company policies with respect to their electronic communications.
  • Notice that regular and consistent checkups will be done to reduce the employee’s expectation of Privacy
  • The company systems should not be used for conducting any sort of out-lawed activity such as the distribution of pirated software
  • The representative of the management should be given a responsibility to act as a point of contact
  • It is the company’s prerogative to impose disciplinary action against the errant workers who violate the policies of the company
  • A statement asserting that the policy is not intended to interfere with rights under the NLRA

U.S State Laws on Social Media Use

Social Media Use

The use of Social media in the United States is extensive and cuts across all agencies and relevant authorities. The use of the internet is limited and regulated by limitations and laws. Installations and use of social network programs and software on Close and Open Net are closely monitored and regulated. Social media are open to any user in any part of the world, except for classified sites specifically for defined set of users.

Access to Social Media

  • Department is mandated to uphold and encourage ethical and responsible consumption of social media. This should be done in accordance with policies, laws and regulation governing technological information. No organizational department is allowed to block access to social media.
  • IT Change Control Board (IT CCB) must at all times approve downloading of software to any work station as legal and appropriate.
  • Office of the Legal Adviser is mandated with advising Chartered Advisory Committee on relevant statutory laws applied in such committees on the use of social media

Personal Use of Social Media

  • Department personnel can enter or access entries social media sites through their personal accounts or profiles in accordance to internet usage policies. Consequently, entries from private accounts must not;
  • Violate the set code of conduct and ethical rules like abuse of public office for personal and selfish gains.
  • Nobody shall pass as representing the Department or the Government policies and use of seals and logos.
  • Persons using or creating private or non-official social network sites must at all times adhere to the set policies.
  • No one shall disclose classified information on procurement policies and information with respect to violation of the set laws and regulations.

Official Use of Social Media

  • Department personnel are allowed access to social media sites on their capacity as officials. They can post or comment while replying responses with regard to entries and should be given supervised and approved before they can create or engage with the publics on social media.
  • Department personnel must report to the relevant authorities for instance the security agents representing untested technologies and applications or new social media sites that are recognized as IT assets that they wish to get access to.
  • Legally recognized email accounts or social sites belonging to personnel shall be used to post content to social sites. These accounts should be completely separate from private or personal accounts.
  • All employees shall adhere to laws and regulations of public dissemination clearance.
  • All users of both public and private social media sites are advised on the security risks related to use   sensitive personal information.
  • Nobody shall be coerced into creating or posting personal comments and entries into social media sites.

References

Bélanger, F. & Cossler, R. (2011).Privacy in the digital age: A review of information privacy research in information systems . MIS Quarterly, Vol. 35 (4), p1017-A36.

Vacca, J. R. (2009). Computer and Information Security Handbook. Morgan Kaufmann.

Whitman, M., & Mattord, J. H. (2010).Readings and Cases in Information Security: Law and Ethics. Cengage Learning.

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