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Ministry of Justice and Met staff disciplined for social network use

The Ministry of Justice has sacked four officials and issued final warnings to three, after they were caught breaking their own policy by abusing the use of sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Scotland Yard has also taken disciplinary action on 28 police officers for misusing social networking sites. Keith Crosley, director of email security specialist Proofpoint , said: “It is worrying that so many personnel who work in two of the UK’s leading law enforcement agencies are bringing them into disrepute, if not risking operational security by the way they conduct themselves online.”

Personnel involved with law enforcement are permitted to utilise social networking sites for professional causes. Websites such as Facebook and Twitter can be used constructively but many officers and officials are using the sites for personal reasons, revealing delicate information. A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said; “MoJ policy is that staff cannot access social networking sites for personal reasons. Staff can only access such sites for professional reasons if they are able to provide a strong business case that shows they need to use these media to perform their role.”

Although information security could be seen as more essential in public sector organisations, the issue is also prevalent in the private sector, Crosley said; “People post a wealth of information about themselves and their employers on Facebook. The Met and MoJ are not alone in dealing with these issues. Proofpoint’s own research has found that 17 per cent of organisations investigated a leak of confidential information via a social networking site, and 10 per cent have disciplined an employee for violating social networking policies in the past year.”