What is Content Filtering?

Content filtering, or content monitoring as it’s also called, is a system that enables an organisation to monitor the activities of all personnel who have access to a PC or laptop computer.

Why do I need it?

You need to ensure that important documents and other confidential information are not leaving your organisation. You also need to make sure that emails of an insulting nature are not sent and if they are, you are then able to track the instigator. Likewise for staff who ‘surf’ for inappropriate material on the internet.

What about the legal issues?

You need to be aware of the legal issues and coordinate either with a lawyer or your HR department as you need everybody to agree to a written ‘Acceptable Use Policy’.

What is an Acceptable Use Policy?

An Acceptable Use Policy or AUP is a document that outlines what employees can or can not do with their PCs. It covers everything from email i.e. who can use it and what should it be only be used for, as well as what can be looked at on the web and if and when it can be used for personal purposes.

What if I don’t have an Acceptable Use Policy in place?

It will be difficult to discipline someone if certain activities are uncovered and it is always good to set rules and guidelines.

Also, if you are monitoring people’s activity, it needs to be in the bounds of the law and you need to ensure that you are not seen to be invading people’s privacy or human rights.

In what form should an Acceptable Use Policy take?

It can either be a document in its own right or as part of an employment contract.  Either way, it must be read, agreed and approved.

Where can I get an Acceptable Use Policy?

There are a number of websites on the internet that provide templates.

What is regarded as ‘inappropriate’ use?

Inappropriate use can include a large number of areas, such as pornographic material, sexual harassment, bullying, and theft of vital and confidential document or intellectual property, defamatory statements sent by mail, text or chat.

Can chat and other forms of communications be monitored and filtered?

Most forms of communications can be monitored, including chat, mail, and internet mail and messaging. You will need to check the capability of the software that you are buying to ensure it covers the areas you require.

What happens if a ‘new’ type of communication is developed a while after I have purchased my content filtering package?

Normally, companies develop their software according to what is being developed in the market place, so it most likely that you will be able to either upgrade your existing package or add a module to be able to deal with it.

Who should have access to the content of the material that has been monitored?

This should be left to very senior personnel or HR. Clearly you can not let anyone use the system.