Intended for healthcare professionals

Career Focus


BMJ 1999; 318 doi: (Published 19 June 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:S3-7199

As more and more healthcare organisations come on line the legal issues surrounding the use of the internet by employees become increasingly relevant. The issue generating most heat under collars is pornography downloads, but a recent article in IDS Brief(1999:637;11-17) points out that the legal risks are manifold. Sexual or racial harassment is as illegal on-line as it is in other contexts, and employees may inadvertantly enter contracts, make defamatory statements, and leak sensitive information, which means that all organisations need to have an acceptable use policy for staff. Organisations that wish to monitor email should warn employees that this is the case, as the default may be that employees have a “reasonable expectation of privacy” in their personal correspondence. “An appropriate balance” between unfettered access and prohibitive restriction to the internet will promote a harmonious working environment, say the lawyers. If you want to know more, links to the relevant legislation are available at