Question:   I've been keeping an on-line journal for a while now. Recently my boss found out, and asked me to take it down. I really don't see how what I do in my personal life impacts on what I do at work. Can they really make me take it down?

Answer:  In many ways, it may depend on what you discuss in your journal. Of course not being lawyers, we wouldn't be able to comment on the legality of what the company can or can't do. We can tell you that people have recently been terminated as a result of personal web sites that they maintained, and it is definitely something you should think very carefully about.

From a practical matter, companies often have communication policies for employees who have access to trade secrets, sensitive information or who may simply be representing the company in ways that negatively reflect on the organization. Some companies have recently developed formal web site policies, and we would recommend asking your employer if they have such a policy currently. It may be possible to express yourself freely without stepping over those boundaries.

Don't forget that it isn't simply current employers you'll want to think about. It isn't uncommon for employers to plug prospective employees names into popular on-line search engines to see what comes up. While you may think that colorful descriptions of your private life are your business, and don't impact on your ability to do the job, once you make them public, it's difficult if not impossible to put them back in the bottle. If it came down to a choice between you and an equally qualified employee, tales of youthful indiscretions may be the thing that prevents you from getting hired in the future.

As on-line journals become increasingly popular, this is likely to be a major issue. You should always remember that what you are writing is public and that anybody may eventually be able to find it and hold it against you.