Corporations Smackdown Users On Web Services

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Security fears over viruses, bandwidth hogging, and the terror of violating government regulatory laws have prompted big business to put the squeeze on their staffer’s needs.

Corporations Smackdown Users On Web Services
Putting The Kibosh On Personal Net Usage

Judging from the volume of phishing attempts from criminals faking Chase bank emails, it isn’t surprising the company has some paranoia about the Internet. The Wall Street Journal reported how JP Morgan Chase & Co is just one of many banks with less-than-open policies when it comes to using web services.

With numerous complicated regulations governing the finance industry, firms like Chase block anything it cannot monitor: instant messaging, VoIP, and web-based email. For publicly-traded companies, The Fear of violating SEC Regulation FD on fair disclosure far outweighs the benefits a Chase or other company could realize from opening additional lines of communication.

VoIP alone as an implementation could save a big companies thousands of dollars on phone services, much in the way that shifting some contact and support options to email have done already. But all it takes is one wayward undocumented comment that pushes a stock price up or down to bring the steel-capped boot of government down hard in wrathful vengeance.

The telecom firm Global Crossing also bans access to external email services, an imposition that reaches all the way to its C-level executives. In the article, one Global Crossing officer noted how that affected his daily habits:

“I used to think nothing of checking my Yahoo mail several times a day,” says Global Crossing Chief Marketing Officer Anthony Christie. Now that he can’t, his long workday makes it hard to avoid using his work email account for personal messages, he says.

Christie could check out Yahoo Mail for Mobile, which would let him grab his mail from that account wirelessly. If he has a smartphone with a thumb-keyboard, he can cheerfully thumb his nose at the ban.

And that easy workaround raises another issue: should corporations ban staffers, even high-level executives like Christie, from accessing external email accounts at all during the workday? The immediate argument to be made will be the “you come to work to do work” position, which is entirely accurate while being completely blind to the fact that workers are human beings and not mindless pollen-carriers.

Most importantly, the stance could bode poorly for the so-called Web 2.0 movement, where the whole focus of the Mary Hodder-dubbed Live Web involves sharing user-generated content. While business-to-consumer sales and services can be profitable, business-to-business offers even greater returns for the successful entrepreneur.

There isn’t much mystery in Microsoft’s profitability or its recent decision to get its Vista operating system to big volume licensors in November 2006 while making the consumer market wait until 2007. B2B equals a substantial revenue stream.

With big business cutting web service access to a trickle, a lot of Web 2.0 may die of thirst.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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