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CIPS Alberta Luncheon
Thu, 09/08/2011
Event Location: 

Location         Westin Hotel, 320 - 4 Avenue SW

Start Time        9/8/2011 11:30 AM

End Time         9/8/2011 1:00 PM

Corporate Policies for the Internet and Technology Use in the Workplace
Tony Morris, Partner, Macleod Dixon

As a result of the expansion of the use of technology by employees in the workplace, businesses are increasingly exposed to significant legal and business risks, including intellectual property infringement claims or privacy complaints, wrongful dismissal lawsuits and the improper disclosure of sensitive corporate information. In light of these potential risks, it is crucial that businesses carefully craft technology policies and enforce them consistently. Some of the key features of an effective and enforceable corporate technology policy are:

  • Specific technology tools– as a result of the growth of a wide array of electronic communication tools including email, social networking and blogging, a corporate technology policy should be tailored to address the specific legal issues surrounding the use of each particular tool. Similarly, due to the wide array of technology tools, it is important that a corporate technology policy clearly defines what is considered to be proprietary information of the business and that the policy is drafted in such a manner to both regulate and protect against its disclosure
  • Employee monitoring– the effective enforcement of corporate technology policies rely in large part on the monitoring of technology use by employees. A corporate technology policy must balance the need for monitoring behavior with the privacy rights of the employee under the applicable privacy legislation in addition to the relevant provisions of the Criminal Code concerning privacy
  • Enforcement of corporate technology policies– once a technology policy has been implemented, in order for a company to be able to rely on a breach of terms of the policy by an employee as the basis for discipline, or even dismissal of that employee, a technology policy must be deemed to be enforceable. A key element of enforceability is that a technology policy expressly sets out the parameters of acceptable use of technology by employees, along with the consequences of non-compliance. It must form part of the employment contract through training or actual execution by the employee.

Finally, a company must enforce breaches of the terms of its technology policy by its employees in a consistent and fair manner or risk being deemed to have condoned such breaches, resulting in the company potentially being prevented from enforcing future breaches.

Tony Morris assists technology suppliers and users in structuring, negotiating and implementing technology-related corporate and commercial transactions, including business process and information technology outsourcing and service agreements, competitive procurements, investment and finance and the reworking of information technology relationships. Tony provides guidance on technology licensing and development, electronic commerce, cloud computing and "software as a service" applications, privacy, product acquisition, reseller and distribution arrangements and other commercial transactions. He has also advised clients on issues of copyright, trade secrets, and trade-marks and is a registered Trade-mark Agent. Throughout his years of practice, he has gained experience in franchising, real estate conveyancing, commercial lending and general corporate matters.

Tony has lectured regularly on various aspects of outsourcing, technology, privacy and electronic commerce law. He was past chair of the Intellectual Property Section (Northern Alberta) of the Canadian Bar Association, and is currently a member of the Licensing Executive Society, Intellectual Property Institute of Canada, Canadian IT Law Association, Computer Law Association and Calgary Council on Advanced Technology.

Tony leads the Calgary office practice in privacy law, having dealt with and lectured on Canada's and Alberta's privacy law legislative regimes. He has helped client's conduct privacy audits, develop privacy policies, address formal complaints and Office of the Information Privacy Commissioner investigations and inquiries, and even respond to privacy security breach notification requirements in Alberta.

In 2003, Tony graduated from Canada's first Master of Laws (LLM) program specializing in the business and law of e-Business, offered through Osgoode Hall Law School. His major paper was entitled The Electronic Health Record in Alberta: An Introduction to Business and Legal Infrastructures and Issues, a subject chosen due to his extensive work with Regional Health Authorities in Western Canada and their development of electronic health record strategies.

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