Developing an Internet and Intranet Usage Policy for a Metropolitan Municipality in South Africa

Developing an Internet and Intranet Usage Policy for a Metropolitan Municipality in South Africa

Udo Richard Averweg (University of KwaZulu-Natal,South Africa)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-847-0.ch007
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This chapter deals with a suggested framework for developing an Internet and Intranet usage policy for municipalities in South Africa. Since the Internet and Intranet are widely used in municipalities in South Africa, there is a need to define the associated risks, the conditions under which a municipality’s Internet and Intranet services may be used and the sanctions which may be imposed for non compliance by employees. The chapter discussion includes suggested associated Internet and Intranet usage procedures; implementation and institutional arrangements; and monitoring, evaluation and responsibilities. Some future trends for an Internet and Intranet usage policy are also suggested.
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Internet And Intranet

The Internet is a worldwide communication network linking thousands of computer networks and many millions of users through public and private telecommunication lines. The Internet is “a network of networks” (Turban, Rainer & Potter, p. 50). The Intranet is the use of Web technologies to create a private network, usually within an organisation (Turban, Rainer & Potter).

Metropolitan municipalities have an Internet website, for example, to communicate with the public about the activities of the municipality and to promote business and investment information within the city. Without a Internet website, tender information and a range of information about a municipality’s departments, activities and campaigns will not be available. Metropolitan municipalities have an Intranet website, for example, to communicate with its employees, as a common area from which to access documents and resources, and to provide a platform for various online tools. Without an Intranet website, paper consumption will not be reduced by providing material in electronic format and there will be no platform from which employees can access interactive services (e.g. a Human Resources self-service portal). Therefore, the conditions under which these Internet and Intranet websites may be used should be set out in an Internet and Intranet usage policy.

Metropolitan municipalities in South Africa provide access to the information resources and facilities of the Internet and Intranet to help their employees undertake their jobs more effectively and efficiently. Doddrell (1995) suggests that it is every computer user’s responsibility to protect information “because it may also be their job” (p. 4). The facilities to provide that access represent a considerable commitment of a municipality’s resources in respect of desktops, telecommunications, security, software, software licenses and user support often at significant cost. They also represent a significant risk if they are not used or managed correctly. Internet and Intranet risks deserve an Internet and Intranet specific policy for effective control. As Lichtenstein & Swatman (1997) indicate, an assessment of Internet (and Intranet) risks will enable an Internet and Intranet “acceptable usage policy to de developed which controls the risks and hence limits the losses incurred” (p. 184). Internet and Intranet risks should therefore be taken very seriously by municipalities.

Key Terms in this Chapter

User: Means any person (includes an addressee, originator and intermediary) who uses the municipality’s Internet and Intranet facilities.

Policy: Means the overall intention and direction as formally expressed by management.

Intranet: A network architecture designed to serve the internal information needs of an organisation using Web (Internet) concepts and tools.

Confidential: In the municipal context, is defined at the following four levels: (1) legal privilege (e.g. attorney/client privilege and counsel’s opinions); (2) constitutional privilege (a person’s right to privacy e.g. consolidated client billing information); (3) commercial/trade secrets (e.g. tenders and other information subject to embargo); and (4) personal information (e.g. Human Resources Department information such as medical record details).

Monitoring: At any time and without prior notice, is a process by which management reports on all the sites users visited. Routine logs of websites visited, files downloaded and time spent and reports forwarded to relevant user’s department.

Internet: A worldwide, publicly accessible series of interconnected computer networks that transmit data by packet switching using the standard Internet Protocol (IP).

Authorised User: Means any person (includes an addressee, originator and intermediary) who has been granted permission to use the municipality’s Internet and Intranet facilities.

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