UK businesses blocking access to Twitter, Facebook et al
Half of UK organisations block access to Web 2.0 sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube over litigation fears, a new survey has revealed.
The survey was conducted by law firm Fulbright & Jaworski and found that enterprise social networking sites, such as LinkedIn and Plaxo, were also blocked, alongside consumer sites such as MySpace and Bebo.
Rather than worry about the impact of social network sites on productivity, the survey found that it was legal matters that were the greatest cause for concern. Litigation is high on the agenda as 18% of respondents claimed that they have been required to produce information from one or more of these sites as part of an eDisclosure request over the last year.
“For some businesses, networking sites can provide an efficient platform for keeping up-to-date with the latest developments and maintaining a profile in their industry,” said Melanie Ryan, a partner at the firm. “For those businesses that block access, such benefits are outweighed by the possible legal risks, including the inadvertent disclosure of confidential or proprietary information and the resulting claims or fines imposed by their regulators – not to mention, the security threat to their IT systems.”
Technology companies are more lenient when it comes to blocking access, as 56% said they have no restrictions in place.
Businesses need to wake up to the risks. It’s no longer enough just to block employee access to certain sites – these tools are pervasive and staff will always find a way round any restrictions, said Craig Carpenter, VP general counsel at Recommind, vendors of eDiscovery and information risk platforms.
EDisclosure the identification, preservation and collection of electronically-stored information for regulatory and internal investigations and law suits and Carpenter claims that UK businesses are not taking it as seriously as they should.
“Too many UK organisations are still labouring under the misapprehension that eDisclosure is an American problem, but it is increasingly a universal concern affecting businesses all over the world. With information from social media sites now being required – on top of the already ever-expanding volume of email, documents and other electronically stored information – the potential cost and time implications for dealing with such requests are huge,” he said.
Recommind recently carried out its own research into how UK businesses approach social networking. It found that the biggest worry was employees behaving irresponsibly or posting inappropriate material online followed by information leakage and data breaches.