Limited Freedom of Speech?

Lately I have been reading a lot of maritime blogs to get a clearer picture of the industry. I am very grateful that people are willing to share their experiences online and to me it is really helpful, however one company ‘Cemex’ doesn’t seem to think so. <br><br>Today I came across this:<br>maritime-bloggers-beware<br><br>Do they have the right to do this? I realize that the there is need to keep certain information “in house”, however what is the harm to a company if it’s employees publish their experiences working for them online?<br><br>Do they have the right to limit freedom of speech in this way?

<div><span style="font-family: Arial; line-height: 19px; ]<span style="font-style: italic;]“Do they have the right to limit freedom of speech in this way?”</span></span><br></div><br><div> They didn’t limit your freedom of speech they just limited where you could work. It’s like talking about organized labor or unions while working in the oil fields of the US gulf, you do so at your jobs peril. However, I do wonder what secrets a Mexican cement company has which your blog may expose. </div><div> </div><div> Look at it this way, now you are free to speak all you want !!</div><div> : )</div>

Let me say first that I am all in favor of free speech. I’m an American and our forebears fought hard for that right, and now thanks to the cult of fear we are, as private citizens, slowly but surely losing it. Free speech within a corporate framework is an entirely different subject.<br><br>There are a few bloggers out there seem to be somewhat naive regarding what is acceptable content, and in what context. As a private citizen you can blog all you want. As an employee you’d best be careful and aware of policy regarding publishing opinion and commentary about your employer.<br><br>As an employee you just can’t spew out anything you want to about your employer without accepting the potential for consequences. Every company has the right to limit its employees’ speech regarding company policies, procedures, trade secrets, etc. I’m with tengineer in that I can’t imagine what a cement company might wish to keep to itself, but it is their right to put reasonable limitations in place. The challenge then becomes defining “reasonable”, and don’t expect that to happen any time soon. Hell, thanks to Bill Clinton we’ve still yet to determine what the definition of “is” is. <br><br>I also find it entirely within the realm of possibility that a company could easily go way to far in what it limits. In my own life, I recall another free speech disagreement. In this case, an executive level employee at a company I sailed for refused to allow a fellow sailor’s Maxim magazine to be put in his mailbox because she considered it to be pornography. She took it upon herself to toss it in the trash, a decision that resulted in a lawsuit that the company very quickly settled. <br><br>We must all find a balance.<br><br>“Grasshopper, when you can walk the rice paper without leaving a mark, it is time for you to leave.”

If the company had a policy against pornographic material she was in the right not to put that magazine in a mailbox. However I am not sure that warrants throwing it in the trash. What happens to materials that a company has a policy against?<br><br>I can understand a company having a policy against revealing certain inside information and I can understand a company having a policy against derogatory materials, which work against creating more diversity in their industry.<br><br>However, and I hate to say this, but the media has made pornography so mainstream that it would require banning everything from “men’s magazines” to media magazines and women’s fashion magazines. And that would mean heavily censoring all forms of media allowed for the employees to use while on board.<br><br>So I can see what you are saying about free speech. In the company I currently work for I am allowed to identify myself as an employee of the company on forums relevant for that industry, provided I have a disclaimer in my signature that states that the opinions expressed are my own and not employer’s, yada, yada, yada. You get the drill. For the rest I am under an NDA not to reveal certain information. However I have no idea what would happen if I started blogging about certain events and talks I have with people of the company. I suppose they wouldn’t mind if the readers couldn’t figure out which company I am writing about. I would have no idea whether or not that is legal.<br><br>If I am moving into this industry I would like to start a blog to inform other people who would be interested in following that example. But now I am not sure I’d be allowed to or whether or not I would kill future career prospects. With every new turn in life come good and bad experiences and if I were to write about them I don’t intend to censor my words in the least. <br>

I certainly won’t take the bait and get into a discussion about what constitutes pornography. <br><br>As to free speech, my test would be this:<br><br>If you blog what you know would not jeopardize your employment if you said the same thing in management’s presence, go ahead and blog it. Otherwise, find a way to get the message across in a form that does not open you to liability. “Capt_Anonymous” wasn’t chosen by random… It gives me the freedom to express my opinion without putting me in situations I’d best avoid.

I agree with most of what has been said and favor free speech. just remember that there is some truth to the old addage “loose lips sink ships”.

Maritime Reporter did an article this month on US Navy policy on blogging. An interesting read and it mentions a few friends of gCaptain. Here’s the link: Blogging New Territory<br><br>I also wrote a blog post about this: <br>Blogging in the Navy, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine