Background

The Government of Alberta owns, or is accountable for, all equipment related to its information systems and for the contents of all files stored or transmitted on its equipment or systems. Government employees are provided with access to the internet and email to meet government business needs such as improving service delivery, increasing operational effectiveness, and minimizing costs. It is important that this access is managed appropriately.

Internet and email users should be aware of the risks associated with the use of internet and email. Information sent via the internet may not be secure as messages may be read, redirected, or altered by others while in transit. Files downloaded from the internet or attached to an email message may contain viruses or other security threats.

Since the internet evolved as a free exchange of information, many sites provide access to uncensored or questionable material, which may be offensive, illegal or otherwise inappropriate for the workplace. Users need to be aware that any "gov.ab.ca" email messages and all internet activity from a government computer or address leaves a trail and will be generally attributed to the Government of Alberta and an individual user. Email messages sent or received on Government of Alberta systems are records of the government. Users should be aware that the Government of Alberta retains the right to investigate and monitor the use of its equipment and systems as warranted. Any information collected about an individual's use of email or the internet shall be handled in a manner consistent with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

Purpose

This policy outlines the minimum standards for internet and email usage for authorized Government of Alberta employees, contractors, vendors and agents. Departments may supplement this policy as necessary to meet their specific requirements.

Definition of terms

  • "Internet" is the Government of Alberta's connection to a public network of computers and networks accessible by millions of individuals and organizations around the world.
  • "Email" is the Government of Alberta's system for exchanging electronic messages, including attachments of information and materials.
  • "Offensive materials" include, but are not limited to, pornography, hate literature, obscene materials, materials which contravene human rights legislation, and any other material that could reasonably be interpreted as a form of sexual or workplace harassment.
  • "Protected information" means non-public information that may be personal, proprietary, confidential, or restricted in nature.
  • "User" means employees, contractors, vendors and agents of the Government of Alberta who are authorized to access government internet and email services.

Guiding principles

  • Users are provided access to the internet and email to assist them in the performance of their duties.
  • Users are to ensure that their internet and email use is appropriate and lawful and complies with all applicable government and department policies and the commitment to maintaining a positive work environment.
  • Users may use the internet and email for personal use, provided that such use does not interfere, in any manner, with the performance of their regular duties and complies with the policy below.

Policy

  • Users must use the internet and email in a manner that is appropriate and consistent with the laws of Canada, the Official Oath of Office, the Code of Conduct and Ethics for the Public Service of Alberta, and any applicable Supplementary Code of Conduct and Ethics and the terms of their contract, as applicable.
  • Users must avoid intentionally accessing sites or engaging in practices on the internet that have the potential to bring the public service into disrepute, such as accessing sites which promote, display or disseminate offensive materials and must not solicit, distribute or otherwise communicate offensive materials, via email.
  • Users may use the internet and email for personal purposes provided that such use is consistent with professional conduct, does not detract from the performance of the individual's employment or contractual responsibilities and is not for personal financial gain.
  • Users must observe and honour all applicable intellectual property rights (i.e. copyright, patent, trademark, license agreement) governing the downloading, distribution or use of items such as text, graphics, music, or software accessible via the internet or email.
  • Users will be held responsible for their actions on the internet or email taken under their assigned user account and for the actions of any client or visitor permitted to use these government services.
  • Users must not use government internet, email or other communication services to express personal views in the public domain, especially in open forums such as chat rooms, blogs or other social networking sites.
  • Users must not attempt to mask or otherwise obscure or falsify their identity or actions while using the internet or email.
  • Users must ensure that any protected information they convey via the internet or email is appropriately secured by using encryption, password-protected attachments, or other effective measures.
  • Departments reserve the right to monitor and investigate an individual USER's internet or email activity and related files and delete those files as warranted.
  • Departments will review allegations regarding inappropriate use of the internet or email brought to their attention by managers, system administrators, employees or others.
  • Inappropriate use of the internet or email by users may lead to restricted access to these services or disciplinary action up to and including dismissal or in the case of non-employees, the termination of a contract or arrangement with the contractor, vendor or agent.

Appendix: guidelines for acceptable and unacceptable activities

Note: This list is for illustrative purposes and does not constitute an exhaustive list.

ACCEPTABLE USE UNACCEPTABLE USE
  • To accomplish job responsibilities and to further the core businesses of the Government of Alberta.
  • To intentionally interfere with the normal operation of Government of Alberta Information and Communication Technology infrastructure;
  • To download copyrighted music, images, or other electronic files.
  • To communicate with work-related professional contacts.
  • To reveal or publicize personal or confidential information;
  • To make or post indecent, harassing, or hateful remarks about individuals or groups.
  • To improve familiarity with the range and the depth of the information on the internet without stressing the ministry's network.
  • To conduct illegal activities;
  • To access gambling sites, sites which support discrimination against individuals or groups protected by human rights legislation, or sites containing pornographic material.
  • To pursue personal development through learning.
  • To use the system for financial gain through personal business interests.
  • To distribute information regarding joint union/management initiatives or other union information with prior permission.
  • To use the system without permission to distribute information on union business or to undertake any other personal lobbying or personal advocacy.

About this directive

Authority: Public Service Act, Section 25
Application: Organizations under the Public Service Act
Effective Date: July 1, 2005
Contact: Alberta Public Service Commission:
Labour and Employment Practices; Labour and Employment Policy