Government Connect

Dave Lindsay

February 2009


Security forum amendments

Dave Lindsay

March 2009


Corporate Information Management Board amendments

Dave Lindsay

May 2010


Annual review

Dave Lindsay

July 2011


Audit updates

Dave Lindsay

January 2012






Policy Statement




The need for a computer use policy




The scope of the policy




Management statement




Induction training




Asset management












Information Security








Password guidance




Password strategies to avoid




Information classification




Information sharing




Data security




Physical security




Data storage




Removable media




Access to remote systems




Incident management




Internet and email usage








Conditions of use




Use of the Internet




Use of email








Internet monitoring




Email monitoring








Legitimate and illegitimate use




Disposals policy




Data and document disposal procedure




Equipment disposal procedure





1.           Policy statement



1.1.              The need for a Computer Use policy.


Maidstone Borough Council (“the Council”) has made a large investment in the use of information technology.  In many areas the use of ICT systems is vital to provide customers with the service they demand and provide good management information that business decisions can be based upon. 


It is imperative that all information systems are developed, operated, used and maintained in a safe and secure way.  This policy has been written in accordance with the standard ISO 27000 – Code of Practice for Information Security Management and it provides a framework of controls for the use and maintenance of secure information systems at the Council.


          There are three main objectives of this policy:


·           To ensure that all of the Council’s assets, staff, data and equipment are adequately protected, on a cost-effective basis, against any action or omission that could adversely affect the ICT services required to conduct Council business?;

·         To ensure that staff are aware of and fully comply with all relevant legislation;

·         To create and maintain a level of awareness within all sections of the need for IT Security to be an integral part of day to day operations.


1.2.              The scope of the policy.


This policy applies to all Councillors and employees, including

temporary, casual and contract staff who use the Council’s IT facilities

(hereafter referred to as ‘users’) and sets down the standards which

users are required to observe in the use of the Council’s computer systems and equipment .



1.3.              Management Statement.


The Council’s computer systems are critical to its ability to function, and to provide services to the public. The Council’s Management Team therefore fully endorses the content of this policy, and failure to adhere to the terms of the policy could result in disciplinary action against the transgressor.


This Policy is reviewed annually and approved by the Council’s Security Forum. The Council reserves the right to amend this policy at its discretion. In the event of such amendments, all users will be notified appropriately. This policy exists to provide safeguard for the individual and for the Council.


1.4.              Induction training.


All staff will be instructed on the requirements of the authority Computer Use Policy within their formal programme of Corporate and departmental induction training .  


2.           Asset Management.


2.1.              Accountability


          The IT Section maintains a register of all computer assets, including:

·         Servers;

·         Network equipment;

·         Software and licences;

·         Systems documentation;

·         Printers;

·         Desktop estate, i.e. PCs and laptops.


It is the responsibility of every Business Manager to maintain a Business Continuity Plan which details requirements relating to any incident resulting in the loss of some or all of the equipment (or data) allocated to his or her staff.


2.2.              Equipment


It is the responsibility of every user to maintain the IT equipment issued to him or her in a serviceable condition, take reasonable measures to prevent the loss or theft of said equipment, and return all equipment when they leave the Council.     Where managers are responsible for protecting the security of network connections and network equipment at remote sites, they  should ensure that locks are applied and that key codes changed on a monthly basis.


The IT Section will apply patches and firmware upgrades to your hardware   systems as required and in accordance with the Council’s procedures for   applying security patches.


2.3.              Software


          Your computer has been provided to you to for a business purpose. You

          are not permitted to install or download additional software, even if

          procured for a business purpose without authorisation from the IT

          Manager. The IT Section will apply patches to your software systems as

          required and in accordance with the Council’s procedures for applying         security patches.     


If you wish to purchase additional software, please contact the IT

Helpdesk. It is imperative that the IT Section is aware of all software

purchases to ensure value for money, compliance with the Council’s

licensing agreements, and compatibility with Council systems. The Council

is periodically audited on its software and licensing records, and failure to

produce adequate records could result in financial penalties and loss of



Discs and licences for software should be forwarded to the IT Section to

enable its safe storage, and to assist with licence administration. Please

 note that most software licensing agreements make it illegal to copy




3.   Information Security.


3.1.              Purpose


          The purpose of security in any information system is to preserve an

          appropriate level of:


Confidentiality       access is confined to those with specified need and                  authority to view and/or change information


Integrity                the system, installation, network is operating                            according to specification in the way the user expects

                             it to operate and the information contained on the

                             system is correct


Availability             the system or service is available and the output is

                             delivered to the user who needs it when it is required


Information systems include web-based, financial and non-financial, server-based and PC-run systems.


3.2.              Password guidance.


          The Council operates a system of complex passwords, this means that:


·         The minimum length of any password must be seven characters;

·         Passwords must be sufficiently complex, i.e. they must include a combination of letters, numbers, and/or symbols;

·         Passwords will expire after 90 days, after which you will be required to choose a new password;

·         Password history includes your last 20 passwords, which cannot be re-used;

·         Passwords must be kept confidential, and on no account shared with other users – if there is a perceived reason why this is required, please contact the IT helpdesk;

·         A paper record of passwords must not be maintained, unless it is stored securely;

·         You should avoid easily guessable passwords.


3.3.              Password strategies to avoid.


          Some common methods used to create passwords are easy to guess by       criminals. To avoid weak, easy-to-guess passwords:

  • Avoid sequences or repeated characters. "12345678," "222222," "abcdefg," or adjacent letters on your keyboard do not help make secure passwords;
  • Avoid using only look-alike substitutions of numbers or symbols. Criminals and other malicious users who know enough to try and crack your password will not be fooled by common look-alike replacements, such as to replace an 'I' with a '1' or an 'a' with '@' as in "M1cr0$0ft" or "P@ssw0rd" - but these substitutions can be effective when combined with other measures, such as length, misspellings, or variations in case, to improve the strength of your password;
  • Avoid your login name. Any part of your name, birthday, national insurance number, or similar information for your loved ones constitutes a bad password choice - this is one of the first things criminals will try;
  • Avoid dictionary words in any language. Criminals use sophisticated tools that can rapidly guess passwords that are based on words in multiple dictionaries, including words spelled backwards, common misspellings, and substitutions - this includes all sorts of profanity and any word you would not say in front of your children;
  • Use more than one password everywhere. If any one of the computers or online systems using this password is compromised, all of your other information protected by that password should be considered compromised as well - it is critical to use different passwords for different systems.


3.4.              Information classification.


          The Council has adopted the Local Government Classification scheme, the

          purpose of which is to provide a standard framework to help store,

          share, and dispose of information. Within the scheme there are a variety

          of types of information which needs to be managed:

·         Commercially sensitive e.g. financial data relating to contracts;

·         Personal data relating to ‘customers’;

·         Personal data relating to staff e.g. payroll data;

·         Property data relating to customers, i.e. spatial or textual;

·         Metadata, i.e. data which describes other data.


          The responsibility for defining the classification of an item of information

          rests with the originator or ‘owner’ of the data.


          Any output from ICT systems considered to be of a sensitive or          confidential nature must be labelled appropriately. This applies to printed      reports, magnetic media, electronic messages, etc.


          From 1st April 2009 the Council is required to comply with the Department   of Work and Pension’s code of connection, and is required to identify data   which is deemed ‘restricted’. At some point in the future all       correspondence with central government will be governed by this data   policy. Restricted information is defined as any asset whose compromise     would be likely to:


·         adversely affect diplomatic relations;

·         cause substantial distress to individuals ;

·         make it more difficult to maintain the operational effectiveness or security of UK or allied forces;

·         cause financial loss or loss of earning potential to, or facilitate improper gain or advantage for, individuals or companies;

·         prejudice the investigation or facilitate the commission of crime;

·         breach proper undertakings to maintain the confidence of information provided by third parties;

·         impede the effective development or operation of government policies;

·         breach statutory restrictions on the disclosure of information (except the Data Protection Act – which can be addressed by other impact statements and/or the e-Government Security Framework);

·         Disadvantage government in commercial or policy negotiations with others;

·         Undermine the proper management of the public sector and its operations.


          Information security now forms part of the Council’s induction process,       and all users must signal their formal acceptance of this policy. Moreover      staff who are authorised to handle information identified as ‘restricted’ or         ‘protected’ must be made aware of the impact of the loss of such data, and the actions to be taken in the event of any such loss. The recruitment           process of such staff will incorporate security screening to ‘Baseline   Personnel Security Standard’.


          If you are responsible for handling restricted data, you will be  notified as    such by your Line Manager and will receive additional training on the handling, and the procedures to follow in the case of loss of such data.


3.5.              Information sharing.


          The Council is required to follow the terms of the Data Protection Act 1998 in how it uses and shares data. The following guidelines generally apply:

·         Data collected for Electoral registration or Council Tax purposes cannot be shared, even within the Council;

·         Data of a personal or sensitive nature collected for one purpose, cannot be used or shared for another purpose;

·         Data of a personal or sensitive nature must be kept secure, and on no account must data of this nature be transferred by non-secure means (see data security below), or transferred to a non-council owned computer or portable storage device.

·         It is your responsibility to ensure that the recipient of any data transferred by you is authorised to receive it;

·         Data held by the Council on its systems in any format is only to be used for legitimate business purposes.


3.6.              Data Security


3.6.1. Physical security.


         It is your duty to protect the data and information which the Council collects and owns. The IT Section deploys security systems which protect the Council’s systems and data from external attack, whether through       theft, virus, spyware or other malware. However, perhaps the greatest risk to ‘data- in’ is posed by users’ failure to follow simple security procedures:

·         Do not copy data onto removable storage devices (see ‘Removable media’ below), such a ‘USB keys’ unless there is a clear business case to do so – please contact the IT helpdesk, you may be issued with an encrypted device to enable this;

·         Never leave a computer device unattended without first invoking the password-protected screen saver;

·         Do not save data onto the C: drive of your PC or laptop unless there is a clear business case to do so(see ‘Data sharing’ below) – please contact the IT helpdesk if this is the case, as we may need to encrypt the hard drive of your laptopThe Council operates a data retention policy which means that all data has a ‘shelf-life’. Electronic documents and records will be automatically destroyed, but data stored on CDs or DVDs is also subject to the same policy and should be destroyed when no longer in use, or it has passed its retention date (see ‘6. Disposals policy’ below). 


3.6.2. Data storage.


     The manner and location in which you store data is extremely important.     Data stored on network drive and server is automatically backed up and     stored offsite to aid recovery. Data stored on you PC is not backed up          unless you do it, and is therefore at risk should the hard disk fail. For this          reason you should not store data on your hard drive unless there is a         sound business case for doing so. If this is the case, you may be       required to encrypt the data on your hard drive, so   please contact the IT       Helpdesk.


     Every user has a secure personal drive on which to store personal data,       your Y: drive. This data is backed up on a daily basis and should be used to store business data relating to your role.


     You may also have a shared drive which all your colleagues have access      to for storing information which you all require access to. This data is also

     backed up on a daily basis.



3.6.3. Removable media.


          Removable media by the terms of this policy refers to storage media

          which can be removed from its reader device, conferring portability on the

     data it carries. These devices present a risk in their capability to facilitate

     data theft, and as a medium for introducing viruses and other malware to

     the Council’s network.


          This includes:

·         USB flash drives (sometimes called USB keys, or USB sticks);

·         Secure digital (SD) card and micros SD card: these cards are widely used in cameras, mobile phones, PDAs, and media players;

·         CDs and DVDs.


          It is the Council’s policy to prohibit the use of all removable media      devices.  The use of removable media devices will only be approved if a          valid business case for its use is presented.  There are large risks        associated with the use of removable media, and therefore clear business       benefits that outweigh the risks must be demonstrated before approval is           given.


          Requests for access to, and use of, removable media devices must be         made to the IT helpdesk.  Approval for their use must be given by a

          Director or Head of Service.


          Should access to, and use of, removable media devices be approved the      following sections apply and must be adhered to at all times. All    removable media devices and any associated equipment and software    must only be purchased and installed by the IT Section. Non-council           owned removable media devices must not be used to store any           information used to conduct official Council business, and must not be      used with any Council owned or leased IT equipment.


     The only equipment and media that should be used to connect to Council   equipment or the Council network is equipment and media that has been           purchased by the Council and approved by the IT Manager.


3.7.             Remote access to systems


Work is now recognised as an activity, not a place and therefore the locations in which work is carried out can be many and varied. The nature of local government services means that “work” has always been carried out away from the office, particularly if the role involves dealing with the public at their business or residential premises. There are a wide range of staff that already spend a considerable amount of time working remotely from other members of the team.


The Council’s flexible working policy sets out the criteria and arrangements for flexible working:




Requests for remote access to the established will be assessed using a consistent set of criteria regardless of the remote location:

·         Physical security of site;

·         Provision of firewall, or firewall router/modem;

·         Suitability of ISP – this is of particular relevance if remote site is outside of UK.


3.8.             Connecting to the Council’s network


This policy defines how the Council’s IT Team manages access to its LAN for both employees and third parties. This policy is designed to provide a reasonable level of security whilst still enabling everyone to work effectively. It outlines the Council’s policy on the usage of not only traditional workstations and notebooks but also the increasingly popular more esoteric portable devices commonly referred to as PDA’s ‘smartphones’, USB memory sticks, MP3 players etc


·         Firstly, only authorised devices are permitted to connect to Maidstone Borough Council’s network and its resources. This policy is equally applicable to interactive and remote sessions and applies at all times and to any Council access point.

·         Authorisation must be obtained in writing from an authorised source. Authorised sources include the IT Manager, Technical Support Team Leader and Network and Security Officers. No other party is permitted to grant access under any circumstances.

·         Non council employees including visitors and third party consultants are strictly forbidden from connecting PC’s, notebooks or any other devices to any Council network point or wireless access point without prior written authority.

·         The Council does not lock down individual network cards to specific switch ports however it does configure WLAN access to MAC addresses.

·         No employee or third party is permitted to connect an unauthorised PDA, smartphone, portable network capable or storage device to any Council network point or device without prior authorisation. This specifically includes but is not restricted to any devices that connect using USB, serial, Infra red, firewire or device cradles & blue-tooth.


3.8.1 Third-party access


·         Suppliers and contractors requiring remote access to systems within the Council must connect using an approved Virtual Private Network (VPN) client.

·         The Council does not permit (unless there are exceptional circumstances agreed in advance) any connection to its systems via directly attached analogue or ISDN modems. All connections must be made through the Council perimeter firewall via a monitored and securely encrypted VPN tunnel

·         Non-Council devices connecting via this method must be agreed in advance and a full disclosure of its configuration must me made.

·         Non-Council equipment connecting through a VPN tunnel must adhere to a minimum standard of protection agreed in advance. This will include for example the requirement that all connected equipment be running up-to-date anti-virus software. It must be free of malware (worms etc) and comply with any configuration requirements asked of it by the Council. Failure to comply with this requirement will result in disconnection. 

·         For site-to-site VPN tunnels workstations must be on an isolated segment and must not allow bridging to the third party internal network (split tunnelling)

·         Third parties are expected to protect any Council supplied accounts and passwords and only issue them to nominated individuals.

·         VPN accounts will be disabled by default and only re-enabled by request. The requester will be required to confirm their credentials and will be a named party. Once the account is enabled it will be configured to expire within an appropriate time (usually 24 hours).

·         Login passwords on clients must not be saved or cached but entered by the operator with each use.

·         Passwords will be set to expire as per the Councils standard security policy (currently thirty days).

·         Connectivity to Council systems must only be made for the purpose of conducting Council business or technical support (including maintenance and system upgrades) and only during agreed hours.

·         Third parties must agree to access only those systems deemed necessary to complete their work. Any attempt to access other systems for any reason whatsoever will place that organisation and individual in breach of this policy and be liable to immediate termination of connection.

·         Third party accounts will be issued with the appropriate rights and permissions necessary to complete their task. Occasionally, local administrative rights and permissions will be required. Third parties are expected to respect the privileges and trust they have been granted and ensure that any reconfigurations, installations, upgrades or changes of any kind are notified to Technical Support PRIOR to them being applied. Due diligence must be taken at all times whilst connected to Council systems and any mishaps immediately reported.

·         Under no circumstances will Domain Administration rights and permissions be granted.

·         The configuration an establishment of the initial VPN tunnel, i.e the authentication method, encryption and tunnel type must be appropriate to the task. Requests to permit unrestricted access to multiple clients using DHCP for example will be refused. MAC addresses and static IP’s must be provided where appropriate to enable traceability and accountability.  

Internet and email use.


The purpose of this element of the  policy is to ensure the proper use of email and the Internet and make users aware of what Maidstone Borough Council deems as acceptable and unacceptable use of these information and communication tools.   


In using the e-mail and internet facilities every user has a responsibility to maintain and enhance the council’s public image and to use these facilities in a professional manner.


3.9.              Definitions.


        The council now permits more extensive use of the internet and e-mail        facilities in order to benefit users and to enhance the working

          environment. Users are advised that external e-mails are formal        communications from the council and will be treated as such by recipients.       Every care should therefore be taken in writing them with the same      importance being attached to them as to a formal letter. For the purposes      of this policy, the term ‘access to the internet’ means access to the    internet:

  • from any of the council’s premises and property;
  • from any remote site, e.g. from a private house;
  • from any premises not deemed council premises, where access is via the council’s internet service provider (ISP);
  • via any council provided ISP;
  • via any council owned equipment;
  • via any personal equipment where access is via the council’s or council provided Internet Service Provider (ISP).

Risks associated with the internet and e-mail usage include:

  • access to or use of inappropriate or illegal sites or material;
  • security of the council’s network and associated systems;
  • waste of computer and staff resources;
  • breach of copyright;
  • actions for defamation, unlawful use of data, breaches of confidentiality etc;
  • adverse impact on the provision of services to our customers;
  • damage to the council’s reputation.

3.10.          Conditions of use.

Access to the internet is permitted using only the facilities provided for this purpose, and using the designated ISP. Any unapproved connection to the internet will be deemed a breach of the internet policy and IT security policy and may lead to disciplinary action being taken. Users must comply with all the relevant legislation and the code of conduct which is published on the Intranet.

·         Users must not use any ‘chat’ facilities or breach the copyrights of material or deliberately propagate any virus;

·         Users must ensure that PCs are locked when left unattended, and a passoword-protected screen saver activated whenever a PC is left unattended - any misuse by a third party will be attributed to the username and password of the ‘logged on’ user and any disciplinary action may include action against that user;

·         Users must not allow others access to the internet and e-mail via their user ID and password;

·         Under no circumstances should individuals divulge their passwords to anyone else. Passwords should not be written down in case they are read and possibly used by someone else. If a user ID or password is disclosed the password must be changed immediately.


Users must remember that access to the internet and external e-mail facilities during working time is solely to assist users in performing their duties at work. Private use is only permitted in an user’s own time, and is still subject to the terms of this policy.


It will be the responsibility of each individual to ensure that the use of internet facilities:

·         within their work time, is relevant to and appropriate to the council’s business, and is within the context of the user’s responsibilities;

·         within their own time, is subject to the rules contained within this document.

In case of any doubt about the permitted use of the internet, users should seek further guidance from the IT Helpdesk. Any misuse of the internet or e-mail may be subject to disciplinary action.

3.11.          Use of the internet.

All users are authorised to use the internet for the purposes of their work and will be allowed access to the internet at work (or at home for those people working at or from home), in their own time subject to the overriding requirement that the council’s service to the public must not be compromised.


The following basic rules must be observed. Usage must be appropriate, i.e. not excessive and not of a nature that might cause offence or bring the council into disrepute. The following are examples of inappropriate usage. However, this is not an exhaustive list. Further examples are given at the end of the document.

  1. Users must not use the council’s network or computing resources to access, acquire, store, transmit, edit, display, view or download material that may be deemed to be:
    • sexually explicit, obscene or pornographic;
    • racial or discriminatory;
    • libellous or defamatory;
    • hateful, inciting or depicting violence;
    • illegal or may lead to a criminal prosecution of any person;
    • otherwise objectionable material.
  2. Users must not download any software. This may be done by the IT Section on behalf of users by contacting the IT Helpdesk. All requests must conform to the ICT strategy. Contact the IT Section for further details.
  3. Users must not use the council’s internet facilities to download entertainment software, e.g. games, video, music or screensavers, or to play games against other opponents over the internet.
  4. Users must not use the council’s internet facilities to take part in online gambling.
  5. Users must not use the facility for their own business purposes, or private commercial activity.
  6. Users are not permitted to visit social networking sites (such as Facebook and Bebo) during office hours.

NB: Users who are required for council purposes to undertake any access which is generally deemed inappropriate must have the express prior written permission of their line manager to do so.

Where organisations accept orders for goods and services via the internet the facility may be utilised for the council’s business purposes providing it complies fully with the council’s contract and financial procedure rules. Before committing the authority users must have the necessary appropriate authorisation from their line manager.


It will be the responsibility of each user and manager/supervisor/team leader to ensure that:

  • time is not wasted on unproductive access to the internet;
  • time spent browsing the web is not excessive;
  • inappropriate websites are not visited; and
  • Personal use only occurs in the user’s own time.

3.12.          Use of email.

E-mail communication using the council’s network or computing resources becomes the property of the council, and could also be the subject of Freedom of Information search requests. The use of the council’s resources for personal gain or for any purpose that is illegal, contrary to the council’s policies for general conduct or which is known to be contrary to the council’s interest is prohibited, and may lead to disciplinary action and in extreme cases to dismissal.


Access to e-mail must be via the council’s chosen e-mail application. E-mails should be concise and not have lengthy or large attachments. They are formal pieces of correspondence from the council and should be treated as such.

All users should be aware that financial and contract procedure rules and all rules of the council apply to all business transactions conducted by e-mail. Before committing the authority, users must have the necessary appropriate authorisation.

Communications will be monitored for a variety of reasons as explained below. Users should not assume electronic communications are totally private. Users should communicate confidential data in other ways.

The e-mail facility must not be used for inappropriate purposes, i.e. of a nature that might cause offence to others or bring the council into disrepute. The following are examples of inappropriate use. However this is not an exhaustive list. E-mails should not:

·         be used for transmitting, retrieving or storing any communications of a discriminatory, harassing, obscene or pornographic nature, or for advertising such materials;

·         have contents which may be considered by the recipient as derogatory or inflammatory in relation to race, age, disability, religion, ethnic origin, physical attributes or sexual preference;

·         contain material that may be classed as harassment, e.g. material of an aggressive, abusive, bullying, offensive, libellous, derogatory or anti-social nature, or may reasonably be considered in bad taste;

·         be used to communicate extreme views which could be to the detriment of the council or its reputation;

·         be open to misinterpretation;

·         be used to respond angrily or defensively to perceived criticism or derogation;

·         contain any information/data that contravenes the Data Protection Act 1998;

·         contain anything that may bring the council, its members or officers into disrepute;

·         be used to participate in chain or pyramid letters or other such schemes.

If e-mails that are received contain the following, or similar requests, such requests must be adhered to. Permission to do otherwise must be obtained from the originator:

  • This e-mail and any file or link transmitted with it is confidential, subject to copyright and intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to which it is addressed. It may contain privileged information. Any unauthorised review, use, disclosure, distribution or publication is prohibited.
  • If you have received the e-mail in error please contact the sender by reply e-mail and destroy and delete the message and all copies from your computer.

When sending an e-mail consider the recipient and ensure they will be able to read the format you are sending. Users should avoid conversational e-mail. They are not a substitute for the telephone; the general rule is that if you can use the telephone, do so.

E-mail should not be relied on to provide a permanent record, unless they are saved into the Council’s document management system.

Users are allowed reasonable use of the Council’s e-mail facility for personal use, in their own time, if they observe the rules set out in this section. These rules apply equally if the facility is used on council premises, or remotely, e.g. from a private house or other premises. Such use is subject to the requirements of the service, and at the discretion of the user’s line manager.


Some users may receive unsolicited email (SPAM). The Council has in place software which attempts to limit the impact of SPAM; however it is not 100% effective. If users receive SPAM email, they should forward the email onto and immediately delete the email.


The Council has implemented an email archiving facility to reduce the amount of email storage required. If you wish to have access to your archived emails, contact the IT Helpdesk.

4.   Monitoring.

The council has a number of specific and general duties to monitor how the organisation operates and how its individual users perform while at work. Individuals also have a right to privacy.


The Telecommunications (Lawful Business Practice) (Interception of Communications) Regulations 2000 apply to the use of the internet and e-mails. The Information Commissioner has also issued a code of practice on the carrying out of lawful monitoring of internet access and e-mail use at work, taking account of the provisions of the Human Rights Act 1998, the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. The council will adhere to this guidance and the relevant rules and regulations while ensuring that the council’s interests are safeguarded.


Lawful monitoring is undertaken to safeguard users as well as protect the interests of the council and of our customers. It is also undertaken so that managers can ensure the smooth running of their section/departments, and to enable the management of resources and the council’s gateway. Monitoring of e-mails (both incoming and outgoing), and the use of the internet, will be undertaken so that the council can plan and manage its resources properly. Monitoring will also ensure that users act only in accordance with policies and procedures such that standards are maintained, to prevent and detect crime, and to investigate unauthorised use.


4.1.              Internet monitoring.

All internet usage is recorded via an automatic logging system; this system logs the time of access, the length of time the internet was accessed and the name or IP address of each site visited. The system also logs attempts to access those sites which are blocked.

Reports will be available to managers identifying the length of time spent by their staff browsing the internet, and the categories of sites visited. Where required by managers more detailed reports can be provided by the IT Section by contacting the IT Helpdesk. Where there is suspicion of misuse/abuse of the internet or resources, further investigation will be undertaken in accordance with the code of practice.

4.2.              Email monitoring.

All users who use external e-mail must be aware that external e-mails received or sent are copied and stored in order to safeguard the interests of the individuals and the council should any allegations be made against the council or its staff.


There is no systematic or continuous monitoring of such e-mails and they are not accessed/read unless absolutely necessary during the course of an investigation or complaint. Access can only be gained with the express permission of a director or assistant director, and all such access will be carried out lawfully and in accordance with the legislation outlined above.



4.3.              Discipline.


Users should take note that breaches of this policy may result in disciplinary action being taken, and in extreme cases, dismissal. All disciplinary action will be undertaken in accordance with the council’s disciplinary procedures which are published on the Intranet.


The procedure gives examples of acts which would ordinarily constitute gross misconduct. This list is not exhaustive. The following are those which could relate to breaches of this policy, and which could result in instant dismissal:

  • Conduct which results in a serious breach of confidence in the user;
  • Action which brings the council into serious disrepute;
  • Sexual or racial abuse or harassment;
  • Viewing/forwarding/storing images or content which could be considered pornographic, obscene or offensive;
  • Corruption, fraud, falsification of records, e.g. abuse of the Computer Misuse Act 1990;
  • Misuse of the council’s property or name.

4.4.              Legitimate and illegitimate use.

          E-mail and the internet enable users to have more ready access to    information and colleagues. It can transform the way in which jobs are    done and can enrich the working environment. It is therefore to be       welcomed and used wherever and whenever possible to streamline   communication. The following system has been produced to help users        make effective use of the medium.


4.4.1. Legitimate use:

·         Communicating on behalf of the council or as an aid to pursuing tasks within your job description or remit.

·         Conducting research into work related matters.

·         Personal research of the internet or sending personal e-mails in own time.

·         Personal purchases of goods and services via the internet in own time e.g. booking personal holidays, flights etc.


4.4.2. Do not engage in these activities:

·         Use e-mail for gossip, or to libel others or other organisations.

·         Visit social networking sites.

·         Make statements purporting to represent the council when they are personal views.

·         Make derogatory remarks or express derogatory opinions regarding the council, its officers or members.

·         Knowingly infringe copyright or intellectual property rights.

·         Knowingly send or receive anything that is illegal or fraudulent.

·         Knowingly send or receive anything that is obscene, sexually explicit, defamatory, racist or homophobic in nature, or any material which is intended to cause the receiver or anyone who sees the material harassment, alarm or distress.

·         Use the facility to pursue personal business interests/commercial activity.

·         Allow anyone else to use your user ID or password to gain access to your internet or e-mail account.

·         Knowingly engage in any activity that threatens the integrity or availability of the council’s systems.

·         Attempt to break (hack) into any area, whether inside or outside the council.

·         Engage in any online gambling or play games with other opponents over the internet.

·         Download any entertainment software, games, music, videos, screensavers or any software/applications.



5.   Disposals policy.

It is the policy of the Council to ensure that any data of either a personal nature (as defined by the Data Protection Act) or confidential nature that is no longer required is dealt with in a secure manner before the equipment or data is relocated within or disposed of by the Council.  In order to achieve this objective all data stored in digital form must be disposed of in accordance with this procedure.

IT equipment disposals should, where possible, ensure that best value is obtained and also address Local Agenda 21 issues, and WEEE standards to minimise any environmental impact resulting from the disposal of equipment (for example from toxic and contaminating materials such as lithium and lead which are present within computer equipment).  For further information on WEEE:  

 The policy applies to all computer hardware, including printers, VDUs, etc.


5.1.              Data and document disposal procedure.


Information selected for disposal must be redundant or have been copied for use elsewhere, for example on a network drive accessible by members of the section which originated the data.

The information must no longer be required for operational, accounting, functional, legal, training, security or contractual reasons. Please refer to local ‘data owner’ data retention and disposal polict guidance.

Data on fixed or removable hard drives should be destroyed centrally by the IT Section by use of an appropriate utility program. Data on tape, cartridge, DLT or DAT tapes should be overwritten by appropriate software or the item cut into sections before disposal.  Alternatively the items may be sent for secure disposal via the IT Section. Floppy disks and CD ROMS/DVDs should be cut into quarters before disposal.


Documents containing personal data or confidential information should be shredded or placed in confidential waste sacks.


5.2.              Equipment disposal procedure.

The reasons for disposal of each item must be identified, justified, documented and authorised by the relevant Section Manager.  These will be noted on the equipment inventories where appropriate. All disposals must be notified to the IT Manager and the asset register must be updated accordingly by the IT Section.

For items which are in working order or are repairable, depending on the nature and estimated value of the item, an external purchaser should be considered in accordance with tendering and contract procedures under the provisions of Standing Orders.


Where items are deemed to have some intrinsic value, and there is no potential for donation to  the voluntary sector, consideration may be given to selling items on   the internet, for example on eBay. This is only suitable for items where there are no software licensing issues and no implications for Council data being compromised – an example might be networking equipment.

Where there is judged to be no market interest, the items should be disposed of by other means eg internal sale, donation to other organisations (eg charitable or educational), or scrapped.  Where items are to be sold internally, notices inviting sealed bids should be placed on notice boards and advertised using email.

All equipment must have an electrical check carried out prior to sale.

Any equipment is 'sold as seen' and no IT support will be offered after sale.

Any software provided by the Council on equipment being disposed of must be removed in accordance with the software licence.

Defective items (which cannot be wiped) and judged to be beyond economic repair must have any fixed disks removed and rendered unusable (for example by physical damage). Environmental considerations, and the advice of the Recycling Officer, must be taken into account when deciding on the manner of disposal.  The Recycling Officer should be contacted for the latest recommendations from the DTI concerning re-use and refurbishment companies, and county wide arrangements for scrap via Local Agenda 21 networks and WEEE compliance.