Users resent companies sending advertisements to them on the Internet, as opposed to allowing them to access information on the advertiser's home pages. Because sending such messages breaches convention, rather than law, users normally react by blocking the sender's mailbox with enormously long messages.
Advertising displayed on home pages must be kept up to date or deleted after a period of time. This is because the normal rules about misleading advertisements apply to ads on the Internet, as much as to any other type of ads. Virgin Atlantic Airways discovered this to its cost in the US when it continued to advertise discounted fares on the Internet long after the discounts had ceased. The company was fined heavily.
Companies which set up home pages to publicise themselves should be careful, both in using freelance computer consultants and with service providers.
Organisations should also make sure that they own the copyright on their home pages so changes can be freely made. It is surprising how rarely this point is properly covered.
There are a number of legal issues involved when a company allows staff to access the Internet. There has already been one claim for defamation in the UK, based on an allegation made in some copy displayed on the Internet.
The claim was settled before it came to trial, but it highlighted the dangers of making statements about people on the electronic medium.
Companies should include briefings on libel when they train staff, expressly referring to Internet misuse as a potential disciplinary matter.
Staff should be prevented from downloading software from the Internet and warned about the risks of releasing confidential information via the Internet. Excessive use of the Internet during work time, sometimes called cyber-skiving, should also be forbidden. It is best to outline these points in a company's terms of employment.
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