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Corporate Instant Messaging Tips for Avoiding the Foley Folly

October 17, 2006

Shawna Swanson, employment practices partner with Fenwick & West, was recently quoted in a CIO Magazine article, "Corporate Instant Messaging Tips for Avoiding the Foley Folly."

Former Congressman Mark Foley (R-Fla.) resigned his House seat in September after being accused of sexually explicit instant messages (IM) to Congressional pages and former pages, some of who were minors. "The scandal underscores the fact that IM conversations can be just as damaging as e-mail," says Shawna Swanson, a partner with San Francisco-based law firm Fenwick & West LLP's Employment Practices group.

"The big difference between the two, frankly, is people know how to monitor e-mail better than they know how to monitor IMs," Swanson says. "I hear people say that here is no way to monitor IM, but that's actually not the case."

Among other IM tips, the magazine suggests setting an IM policy that complies with regulatory laws and includes acceptable use rules. Then employ IM management tools to log and report IM traffic and enforce company policy.