SAN DIEGO -- Organizations potentially face thousands of lawsuits associated with hostile workplace and sexual harassment claims stemming from inappropriate instant messaging (IM) use, according to Akonix Systems, Inc., provider of the most deployed IM security and compliance products in the world.
The company's January 2007 online poll reveals that 31% of 388 respondents have been threatened or harassed by a co-worker over IM. In addition, IDC predicts that the number of business IM users will reach 80 million in 20071, meaning organizations without acceptable usage policies and proper IM network management tools could encounter increasing numbers of legal issues.
Finally, a recent study from the Radicati Group2 shows that the enterprise IM market is expected to grow to $282 million by 2010, further increasing corporate liability risks associated with unmonitored IM use.
Following Congressman Mark Foley's infamous IM scandal that brought the inappropriate use of IM into the US public eye in early October 2006, enterprises are working on preventing similar situations from happening to them. The results of the Akonix survey show that harassment over IM is widespread in corporate America, creating greater potential for lawsuits and legal actions against the companies on whose networks these offending messages are being sent.
"If businesses continue ignoring unsanctioned employee IM communications, corporate attorneys might find themselves busy attempting to resolve a growing number of complaints and lawsuits," said Don Montgomery, vice president of marketing at Akonix Systems. "Properly-managed IM networks foster collaboration, increase staff productivity and ensure compliance, while reducing risks of potential long-term legal troubles."