One in Two U.K. Companies Block Social Networking Web Sites

fulbright trends

Fulbright & Jaworski, the international law firm, just published their 6th Annual Litigation Trends Survey Report. It is an independent survey of senior corporate counsel from a wide range of industry sectors.

About half of the respondents (52% of U.K. and 46% of U.S.) claim to block employees from accessing social networking Web sites. Two in five of all corporates (42%) block the most popular personal social networking sites (such as Facebook, MySpace and Bebo) and 30% block business-related networking sites (LinkedIn and Plaxo). The YouTube web site is also blocked by more than a third of companies (37%).

Only 1/3 of the companies reported that they have no restrictions on access. Technology companies are the least likely to block social networking sites, with 56% of all tech companies saying they have no restrictions on such sites.

I found it interesting that 18% of U.K. companies have been asked to produce electronic information from such web sites as part of an electronic discovery request in legal proceedings.

Melanie Ryan, a Fulbright partner, commented, “For some businesses, networking sites can provide an efficient platform for keeping up-to-date with the latest developments and maintaining a profile in their industry. For those businesses that block access, such benefits are outweighed by the possible legal risks, including the inadvertent disclosure of confidential or proprietary information and the resulting claims or fines imposed by their regulators – not to mention, the security threat to their IT systems.”

But do they have a policy in place to let employees know what they should not be doing on these sites? Or are employees just doing those bad things at home or on their iPhone?

Blocking is not an effective policy.