Wednesday, September 22, 2010

They Know Who You (and your employees) Are!

It started with a post on Joe.My.God about the Don't Ask Don't Tell cloture vote. A commenter leaves a comment: "All faggots must die." Joe, turns to his readers to see if they can track down the commenter by posting the IP address from which the comment came.

The readers quickly accepted the challenge and determined that it came from a U.S. Senate network. They then determined the approximate geographic location which just so happened to be the offices of two United States senators. And, within one day, the story is on the front page of FoxNews.com. Senator Chambliss now admits that the comment appeared to come from his office. I'm sure it's only a matter of time before IT tracks the exact computer and the exact user.

They know who you are! Whether it's newer social media like Facebook and Twitter, or "classics" like good ole' fashioned blog comments, your identity can be tracked. Your network domain name ordinarily includes your employer's name. It presents a problem for employers and employees.

Some lessons:

  • Employers: Internet and social media policies need to address commenting/publication from work computers (caveat: public employers have First Amendment concerns, so draft carefully)
  • Employees: Don't post stupid things on the Internet at work!

Posted by Philip Miles, an employment lawyer with McQuaide Blasko in State College, Pennsylvania.