I was scheduled to attend a seminar this morning entitled "The Legal Minefield of Employee Blogging: Important New Developments" that was hosted by one of the law firms here in Seattle.  Unfortunately the event was cancelled.  I registered online, got a confirmation but never received a cancellation notice so my trip downtown this morning was for naught. I'll just have to pick up those 2 hours of continuing legal education (CLE) some other time.

That minor inconvenience aside,  I was looking forward to seeing what the legal profession's view of what has been going on for sometime in companies and with individuals.  As with most things, the courts, company policies and laws are well behind what is actually taking place in the world.  The title of the seminar itself gives you some idea the angle that will be presented.  I'm curious whether or not any of the positive aspects of blogging will be covered so that companies can weigh the pros and cons and make their own value judgment or if it will be just a blogging is a bad thing and here are the tremendous risks you face by allowing it to happen.

We're taking a fairly conservative approach to blogging so far.  Unlike companies like SUN where it seems like they allow anyone to blog as a representative of the company, F5 has a small group that has been designated as corporate representatives when it comes to blogging on behalf of F5.  We have a policy that says what's okay and what is off limits to guide people.  I think this approach has served us well to date.

One thing that is a grey area is what to do about employees who blog about F5 in their personal blogs?  I presented at a new employee orientation session a while back and there was one new employee that I thought wasn't really paying attention about a week or so later I found what I had said repeated almost verbatim in that person's blog.  There wasn't anything proprietary in what was written but it sure made me appreciate just how free information can be these days.  We all know of the leaked email or memo syndrome where an internal document pops up outside of the company.  But now the words that you say in a meeting can be transcribed for posterity for the world to see (and often while the words are being uttered thanks to WiFi).  For some reason I view this as more powerful than someone verbally saying "I was in a meeting and Dan said..."  Anyhow, while I would never consider encroaching on peoples' private lives and telling them not to blog about F5 (and who could enforce that anyway?), I want to be sure that everyone knows that disclosing proprietary company information has serious consequences.

Overall, my belief is that the benefits of employee blogging outweigh the risks associated with allowing it to occur.