The authors point out that private blogs are those that are updated outside of work hours on the employee’s own computer; to update a private blog on a work computer would automatically create a case for the wrongful use of company equipment.
Between 2003 and 2004 the readership of blogs increased 58% to 32 million (quoting Per Internet and American Life Project)
The disclosure of trade secrets is off limits and would qualify as mis-appropriation by an employee.
Disclosure of company rumours on a blog could breach regulations in relation to market disclosure. Such rumours may include resignations or dismissals of key corporate staff where there exists a requirement to disclose this information to regulators prior to release to the market.
Whilst it may be legal to terminate a blogger’s employment, it may be unwise to do so. Staff morale and public perception of the company may both be damaged as a result of a poorly handled contract termination. It is noted that termination may be a particularly unwise move if the company does not have a clear, published policy on blogging practices.
It is noted that a well thought out blogging policy is as important as an email or Internet usage policy, however, a more proactive approach may be to create a “company blogoshphere” where employees can become involved and where the company can exercise some practical control.
The issue this article raises, but doesn’t directly address is what is considered public and private space. Rather than getting to a point where an unfair dismissal case occurs it is better practice to be openly proactive with staff.