Template for Acceptable Usage Policy – Email and Internet


The following is the Office Policy of the Data Protection Commissioner and may serve as a template for organisations wishing to develop Acceptable Usage Policies in relation to email and the internet.


  • Material you receive (e-mail, fax,cd, diskette, download)
  • E-mail has the same status as incoming paper and fax. It must be opened, read and evaluated and responded to within the timelines set out in the offices business plan.


1 - Potentially dangerous material


Do not launch, detach or save any executable file (i.e. those ending in 'exe' or 'vbs') under any circumstances. Contact IT Division immediately.


All incoming attachements must be virus checked by IT Division. Please note that all floppy disks and CD's brought into the office from home PC's should also be virus checked. The safer option is to forward these attachments by e-mail from your home pc as they will be automatically screened by the mailsweeper software.


Do not open, detach or save any unofficial file attachments to your hard disk or any network drive. Official attachements should be placed in the relevant document Library or detached to a shared drive. Please beware of saving any documentation to the hard drive of you pc as this will not be backed up and will be irretrievable in the event of your pc breaking down.


2. Obscenity, Child pornography and Incitement to hate.


You are subject to all legislation regulating Internet use, including the provisions regarding obscenity, child pornography, sedition and the incitement of hate. In particular, persons have obligations under the Irish Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1997, not to allow any of its systems (mail, Internet etc.) to be used for downloading or distributing offensive material.


3. Other Offensive and Time wasting Material


Unsolicited material can arrive from anywhere. Should you receive material which you find offensive or abusive or time wasting respond to it just as you would an offensive letter: complain directly to the sender and bring it to the attention of the sender’s employing organisation / IT and HR managers as appropriate.


In the case of any Spam mail don’t issue any reply.


4. Misleading information


Always be aware that the Internet is an unregulated, world wide environment. It contains information and opinions that range in scope from reliable and authoritative to controversial and extremely offensive. It is your responsibility to assess the validity of the information found on the Internet.


Material you send


Remember that e-mail is effectively on official headed paper and can be traced back to place, date and time of sending. Make sure you are satisfied with its content and that it has been approved at the appropriate level. Double check the address of the intended recipient. Once the “send” key is pressed, e-mail cannot be stopped or retrieved. Deleting mail from your system does not make it untraceable.


Do not send any unofficial graphics or executable files under any circumstances. Do not instigate or forward “unofficial mail” to users either within or outside the Office or send any material which may be offensive or disruptive to others or which may be construed as harassment. Do not make derogatory comment regarding gender, marital status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race or membership of the travelling community.


Remember that screensavers can be a means of causing offence.


Do not use another’s e-mail account.


All e-mail's are automatically backed up and are recoverable. All e-mail's leaving the Office should have the following text or equivalent automatically appended :-


“The information transmitted is intended only for the person or entity to which it is addressed and may contain confidential and / or privileged material. Any review, retransmission, dissemination or other use of, or taking of any action in reliance upon, this information by persons or entities other than the intended recipient is prohibited. If you received this in error, please contact the sender and delete the material from any computer. It is the policy of [ insert employer’s name] to disallow the sending of offensive material and should you consider that the material contained in the message is offensive you should contact the sender immediately and also your IT manager”.


In general : think before you send.


Screening procedures


A suitable IT screening system should automatically screen all mail for known viruses, attachments etc.


IT Division does not normally read individuals mail or open mail boxes except:


(1) where the screening software or a complaint from an individual indicates that a particular mailbox contains material which is dangerous or offensive.


(2) where a legitimate work reason exists to open the e-mail.


Opening mailboxes for investigation requires authorisation by (Senior manager) on a case by case basis. The individual’s mailbox, hard disk, network drive and relevant backups are then searched.


Where investigation proves that a problem exists it will be reported to the sender, their organisation, the staff member concerned, Head of Division and HR Manager for appropriate action. Where the problem concerns material such as a virus or an unauthorised .exe file, which can damage the network, IT Division may immediately close down an account pending further investigation and action.


Blocked messages either inbound or outbound are deleted after 21 days, if a request for release is not received. Messages containing virus files are not retained.



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Dublin 15

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Email: info@synergy.ie

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