Policy on e-mail is rejected

September 18, 1997


Staff Writer

The Washington County Commissioners have refused to impose a policy eliminating privacy from county employees' e-mail.

County Human Resources Director Alan Davis said the e-mail policy would have made it clear to employees that e-mail should be used only for county business and could be read at any time by their superiors.

The policy, which would have clearly stated that all e-mail was the property of the county, was endorsed by County Attorney Richard Douglas.

Under the policy, "willful violations" of the policy, such as using e-mail for solicitation or personal, political or religious reasons, could result in an employee being disciplined or fired.


Davis said county employees have been told not to put anything in an e-mail "that they wouldn't mind reading on the front page" of the newspaper.

County Commissioner John S. Shank spoke out against imposing the e-mail policy. He said it was just one more regulation, and that the county has too many regulations. If someone abuses the system, Davis should sit down with the person and straighten it out, Shank said.

"Give them a good fatherly talk and scare the devil out of them," he said.

"I don't think it's necessary," Commissioner Ronald L. Bowers said of the policy. "I just think we're getting into the personal life of people. We don't check their voice mail."

The commissioners did update their policies on family leave and harassment, and imposed a new policy on violence in the workplace.

County Administrator Rodney Shoop told the commissioners a new, restrictive Internet use policy would be proposed next week.

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