Internet Code of Practice
Royal Arch masonry is part of the world’s oldest secular fraternal society, with members spread over all the Earth’s surface. It is fitting that such an Institution should have International representation, and the World Wide Web allows us as Freemasons to be represented Internationally and can be a major tool in the process of better in forming the public about Freemasonry.
The lack of control over access to and the placing of information on the Internet may cause problems and you may find the following notes, which are basically just common sense, helpful.
There is no objection to individual Chapters setting up websites. To ensure accuracy and consistency on policy matters the material to be used should be forwarded to the Provincial Grand Scribe E to give Provincial approval to the content and ensure it is up to date.
Web sites of a Masonic nature or which include Masonic material which are established by or in connection with chapters or individual brethren, which contain material which is considered by The Provincial Grand Scribe E to be injudicious or contrary to Grand Chapter policy, will be required to amend or remove this material. Refusal or dilatory response would render the Masonic parties involved subject to Masonic discipline.
Masonic websites should not carry any commercial advertising or links to pages that contain commercial information or are themselves of a commercial nature. Freemasons must never use Freemasonry to advance their own interests be they personal, business, professional or whatever. If there is a conflict of interest, or even if it could be thought there might be a conflict of interest, a Freemason is required to say so. Freemasons must not expect, anticipate or seek any preferment or financial benefit as a consequence of being a member of the order.
Names, addresses and personal details of living individuals, or photographs of them, should not be entered on the web site without their permission.
There is no objection to the taking and displaying of group photographs in a Chapter Room in connection with a special meeting but the taking of photographs during meetings including processions before or after a meeting is prohibited. This prohibition extends to any purported reconstruction of a Chapter meeting or any part of its proceedings.
Chapter summonses, which contain personal details, should not be posted on the open pages of the website, though there would be no objection on a `news page to commenting on what in general is to happen at the next meeting e.g. elections, a talk or a ceremony (without giving the candidates details).
Chapter minutes should not be posted on open pages.
Care should be taken over the inclusion of copyright material. Copyright subsists not only in the printed word (not just books but also newspapers, magazines and pamphlets) but also in `images (photography and art works). If such material is to be used the copyright holders permission should be sought. Failure to do so can lead to prosecution.
Inclusion of restricted areas requiring the use of a password and or restriction to the general public is not permitted in view of the commitment to more openness.
Issued by the Warwickshire Provincial Past Dep. Grand Superintendent, John F R Handley.