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My company has 2 Intranets (one technical, and one commercial), I am the administrator of the technical Intranet. We need to see if a client has a contract for a service we offer. As such, for ease of use (for us in the tech department) I made a button in our Intranet that reads data via ajax->php->curl->dom from the commercial intranet, gets the type of the contract, and if it's valid prints the contracts into a DIV tag. So we don't have to open a new tab, look up the client, go through all the commercial info in there just to see something as simple as "yes is ok" or "no disable the service").

Now the admin from the commercial Intranet (the nephew of somebody on the Board) went to the Board complaining that we steal information from them according to this internal decision:

Any addition of new functions, any changes to the current functions or  
operating procedures of any service related to commercial databases  
provided by the company will be made ​​only with approval from the Board.

But we did not add new functions, we did not modify existing functions or procedures, we just read the data with curl instead of a normal browser.

I am into optimizations, efficiency, and user-friendly experience so in our Intranet with 2 or 3 clicks (and max 3 seconds) you get the info you need, otherwise I think I did something wrong and I try to improve. The script we are talking about returns the data to the user in around 1 - 3 seconds, but now the Board forbids us to use it anymore, and our team is slower (you need about 2-5 minutes, and around 8-12 clicks to find a client with the commercial intranet (it's a real mess).

In your opinion is there a legal difference betwen using curl of firefox (or any other browser), to read a simple HTML page (no javascript invloved), acording to the decision above or in general ?

P.S. I know you are not lawers, just give a programmer point of view.

Thank you

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closed as not constructive by Tom Squires, Walter, Rachel, ChrisF Sep 29 '11 at 16:43

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off topic: the admin from the commercial intranet should have come to your team and raised his concerns first, rather than just going straight to the board :s –  MattDavey Sep 29 '11 at 8:21
    
Why would our interpretation be relevant? It's the interpretation of the people who enforce the decision that matters. –  Peter Taylor Sep 29 '11 at 11:15
    
@Peter Taylor : I am curious if one of you had been in a similar situation, and what did you do, or what would you do if someday you will get into a similar situation. –  Radu Maris Sep 29 '11 at 12:18
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2 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Sounds like you need to present your case (directly or indirectly) to, and get the approval of the Board. First of all, make a calculation of how much extra time you need to access this data per user, how many times your team needs to do this per day / month, so how much lost time (thus money) this costs the company. Managers understand cash figures better than technical details :-)

You probably need to discuss this first with your own manager, and get his/her support (if you haven't got it yet). Then (s)he can escalate it to his/her boss etc. You need as much support from management as you can get - if noone understands and lobbies for your case in the Board, you have practically nil chance.

It is important to note that it doesn't really matter whether or not this falls under the above clause in your (or our) opinion: the only thing what matters is the Board's understanding of the case. Even to get them to understand that your solution isn't forbidden by the above clause, you need to first present it to them. And at any rate, the stronger your argument, the better - it is always more convincing to say "our solution does not fall under - thus is not forbidden by - this clause, and btw it saves the company NNN$ per year" :-) Don't forget that the Board is not bound by the rules: they make the rules (and bend them too, if they want to - you just need to make them want to ;-).

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+1. This doesn't sound like a question of legality, it's politics. Talk with the admin of the other intranet, ask what you need to do to get his approval. If that doesn't work, get supporters to back you, build a solid business-case for your thing (ie, $$$ saved) and funnel it up the food-chain. Avoid going to the board alone or without senior backing. –  pap Sep 29 '11 at 10:45
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Peter makes a lot of good points but you also have to take into account the fact that you seem to have upset a blood relative of a board member.

If this is the sort of company where nephews get jobs despite being technically less able you are in trouble. If you don't handle this very carefully you could be finished at this company. If your solution gets pushed through no matter how correct it is, no matter how much money it will save etc. If the nephew doesn't like the outcome, you could still in trouble because one of the board will be after you.

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