Internet Access & Use


I. Justification for Internet Access

Westmoreland County will consider authorizing Internet access in the following situations:
A. Where substantial benefits can be realized in increased productivity, better access to information, improved customer service, or lower overhead cost of delivering services; or
B. Where information required to carry out a department's business function is now available through Internet access and Internet access is considered the primary distribution vehicle for such information from the agencies with which the department deals. (e.g., H.U.D., PA State Courts, etc.)
Internet access will only be authorized when the department requesting Internet access has within its approved budget sufficient funds to cover all costs associated with such access.

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II. Application for Approval of Internet Access

In order to obtain authorization for Internet access the Department Head or Elected Official must complete a "Request for Automated System Services" form and submit it to the Information Systems Department for processing and ultimate approval by the Westmoreland County Board of Commissioners. The application process set forth in Procedure #1 must be followed. All Internet access providers will be determined by the IS department as part of the acquisition and implementation process.

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III. Rules for Internet Use

  1. Westmoreland County departments that receive authorization to access the Internet will use this access for county business purposes only, with the exception of incidental and occasional personal use that does not interfere with County work responsibilities.
  2. All access to the Internet by County employees shall be done in a professional manner and in compliance with all applicable laws and County policies. The Internet shall not be used for any illegal, improper, unprofessional or illicit purposes. Intentional misuse may subject the user to termination of access rights and disciplinary action.
  3. A wide variety of information is available on the Internet. Some individuals may find some information on the Internet offensive or otherwise objectionable. Individual users should be aware that the County has no control over and therefore cannot be responsible for the content of information available on the Internet.
  4. Many of the sites available on the Internet such as Bulletin Boards can be breeding grounds for computer viruses. If these viruses are downloaded to a County System and are not detected, they may contaminate County information systems and databases. Any and all material downloaded from the Internet shall be downloaded to the user's local accessible hard drive. All network computer units are currently being equipped with enterprise-wide anti-virus software. No files should be copied to any network drive until after the files have been scanned manually or automatically for computer viruses. If a virus is detected, the Information Systems Department should be notified immediately. If your work responsibilities require you to do a high volume of file downloading, you should verify with Information Systems that virus protection software has been installed, including automatic current update capability.
  5. The safety and security of the County's systems and network resources must be considered paramount when using the Internet. User passwords are confidential, and it is the user's responsibility to keep the password confidential. Users shall not share any password for any County computer or network facility with any unauthorized person, nor obtain any other user's password by any unauthorized means.
  6. Sending e-mail messages and the transfer of information via the Internet is not secure. Any employee preparing to transmit confidential information should consider doing so in writing, using the traditional paper mail system, or using an encrypted transmission.
  7. No person without specific authorization shall read, alter, or delete any other person's computer files or e-mail. This applies regardless of whether the computer's operating system permits these acts.
  8. The Internet must be treated as a formal communications tool like telephone, radio, and video communications. Therefore, each individual user is responsible for complying with this policy and all other relevant policies when using the County's resources for accessing the Internet. Use of these same resources in violation of this policy or applicable department policies is grounds for disciplinary action.
  9. The following guidelines pertain to all County departments:
    Departments shall be responsible for ensuring that all computer users have been instructed in and understand standard safety practices for using the computer. At a minimum, this shall include the following:
a. Performing frequent back-ups of data files stored on local drives (as opposed to files stored on the AS400 or a central server, which are automatically backed up), as explained in the County Personal Computer Policy manual.

b. Using anti-virus software to scan for viruses on all files that are downloaded to disk from Bulletin Boards, the Internet, or any other outside source to stand-alone (non-network) units.

c. Departments shall report all virus outbreaks that have extended beyond a single PC to the department director and to Data Processing Technical Support.

d. In the event of a serious virus outbreak, or in the event of repeated breach of this policy by a department, that department will be disconnected from the Internet and the County Wide Area network until compliance with the County Internet Policy is re-established and all viruses are removed.

e. Individual users must be aware of and at all times comply with policies and procedures designed to prevent or limit potential County liability resulting from their use of the Internet. For that reason, all outgoing messages which do not reflect the official position of the County or Department must include the following disclaimer:
"The opinions expressed here are my own and do not necessarily represent those of the County of Westmoreland."
f. Resources of any kind for which there is a fee must not be accessed or downloaded without prior approval of the Department Director and the Information Systems Department.

g. No one shall copy, install, or use any software or data files in violation of applicable copyrights or license agreements. See Computer Software usage Policy #17.

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IV. Sanctions for Violations

Violation of this policy could lead to disciplinary action and/or loss of Internet access.

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