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Employee Monitoring Research Resources

What's really fair when it comes to employee monitoring, are employers wasting too much time and resources on monitoring tools and systems, and is it legal for employers to monitor employee computers?    

This document is the resource portal to more than 20 news reports, analyst, research articles, comments and other documents concerning the issues of

  •  Employee monitoring
  •  Computer monitoring
  •  Internet monitoring
  •  Workplace data theft
  •  Workplace monitoring
  •  Employee email monitoring
  •  Workplace email abuse
  •  Workplace Internet/Network abuse
  •  Productivity monitoring
  •  Employee privacy

Index of Employee Monitoring Related Resources

1. A Company Computer and Questions about E-Mail Privacy

[By JONATHAN D. GLATER, New York Times, Published: June 27, 2008]

[Excerpt]

When he was fired, Scott Sidell was angry enough. Then he found out that his former employer was reading his personal Yahoo e-mail messages, after he had left the company.

In a lawsuit that he filed in May against Structured Settlement Investments, the finance company he used to run, Mr. Sidell claims that executives at the company went so far as to read e-mail messages that he had sent to his lawyers discussing his strategy for winning an arbitration claim over his lost job…

The law governing e-mail communications is still evolving. Generally, courts have found that employers can monitor employees’ e-mail communications on company computers. But courts have also recognized greater privacy protection for e-mail messages sent using personal, Web-based e-mail accounts. Details…

2. A Different Type of Computer Monitor

[By MATT RICHTEL, New York Times, Published: August 27, 1998]

[Excerpt]

Better watch what you type. A new generation of software is emerging to permit employers to record not just which Web sites employees browse, but also which programs they use, memos they write, E-mails they send -- in short, every keystroke.

Win What Where, a software company in Kennewick, Wash. (www.winwhatwhere.com), released its entrant into the field this month, a program called Win What Where, which costs $285 for each desktop computer in which it is installed. The company says its software keeps a record of every keystroke, mouse click and command. …

Each program lets employers hide the fact that the software is running on an employee's computer. Desktop Surveillance even allows a record of the employee's activities to be E-mailed to a supervisor without an employee's knowledge. Details…

3. Bosses using internet to monitor activities of staff

[The Irish Times, September 25, 2008]

[Excerpt]

EMPLOYEES HAVE been advised of the need to watch their online behavior after a new study revealed that bosses are increasingly turning to the internet to monitor their staff's actions.

According to the survey of 1,039 employees and 647 employers, which was undertaken by the employment law consultancy Peninsula Ireland , companies are using social networking sites to check the validity of staff out sick.

The survey indicates that 83 per cent of employers have monitored individuals' Facebook statuses to check whether an employee was truly ill with the result that 67 per cent of company bosses have disciplined staff for bogus sickness after discovering the real reason for them being absent through the popular website.

The study also reveals that 74 per cent of Irish employees have admitted to being caught out by their boss for using social networking websites during work hours. Details…

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4. Companies flock to internet filtering

[BBC.co.uk, 17 July, 2002]

[Excerpt]

The business of corporate cyber snooping is getting ever more serious.

Most IT managers and corporate internet users are convinced that monitoring and filtering procedures are an absolute necessity.

This may not surprise too many people, with the dangers of online porn or race-hate sites widely acknowledged…

White collar employers are increasingly alarmed at just how much time is wasted surfing the internet each day. Details…

5. Computer surveillance

[From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]

[Excerpt]

Computer surveillance is the act of surveilling people, generally their computer activity, possibly without their knowledge.

Computers make excellent surveillance tools because they can be programmed (even surreptitiously) to record data without their owners' knowledge or consent. Most computers have connections to networks, which can be exploited (through security cracking) to gain access to any confidential data that may be stored on the computer. Additionally, if someone is able to install certain types of software on a system, they can turn it into an unsuspected surveillance device. Details…

6. Data theft

[From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]

[Excerpt]

Data theft is a growing problem primarily perpetrated by office workers with access to technology such as desktop computers and hand-held devices capable of storing digital information such as flash drives, iPods and even digital cameras. Since employees often spend a considerable amount of time developing contacts and confidential and copyrighted information…

Pod slurping is the act of using a portable data storage device such as an iPod digital audio player to illicitly download large quantities of confidential data by directly plugging it into a computer where the data is held, and which may be on the inside of a firewall. Details…

7. E-mail in haste, repent at leisure

[BBC.co.uk, 2 April, 2002]

[Excerpt]

E-mail is so quick and easy - so quick and easy that few people pause to think who may end up reading their message, writes Paul Rubens. Details…

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8. E-mail: Our right to write?

[BBC.co.uk, 3 May, 2000]

[Excerpt]

Before you hit "Ctrl + Enter" to send off your next e-mail from work, beware, you may unwittingly be posting your letter of resignation.

The latest generation of e-mail scanners allows employers to sift your correspondence for words deemed unsuitable.

These words can be given a score value, with each use bringing the e-mailer closer to the dole queue.

The charity says while companies rush to protect themselves from legal actions arising from employee e-mails and internet use, workers rights and privacy are being ignored. Details…

9. Employee Monitoring: Is There Privacy in the Workplace

[Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Posted March 1993]

[Excerpt]

Employers want to be sure their employees are doing a good job, but employees don't want their every sneeze or trip to the water cooler logged. That's the essential conflict of workplace monitoring.

Employers can use computer software that enables them to see what is on the screen or stored in the employees' computer terminals and hard disks. Employers can monitor Internet usage such as web-surfing and electronic mail.

Usually, when an employer states a policy regarding any issue in the workplace, including privacy issues, that policy is legally binding. Policies can be communicated in various ways: through employee handbooks, via memos, and in union contracts. Details…

10. How can your boss monitor you?

[BBC.co.uk, 12 March, 2004]

[Excerpt]

We all do it: a bit of online banking, holiday planning and personal e-mailing. There is no harm in it if the boss isn't watching..... is there? Well, your boss just might be watching.

Just got off the phone to your best friend and about to start surfing the web? Your employer may just be taking more notice of your activities than you think.

If you are at work right now, your boss might know you are reading this. Software can be installed in your computer that can measure how fast you are typing, which web pages you are visiting and what e-mails you are sending. A program called Investigator allows employers to monitor every single key stroke an employee makes. It also takes periodic screen shots of what's being displayed on the computer (including dodgy sites). Details…

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11. Internet abuse costs big money

[BBC.co.uk, November, 2002]

[Excerpt]

Cyber slackers are costing Britain 's small businesses almost £1.5bn per year. A survey has found that many workers at small and medium businesses are wasting time with e-mail messages and websites that have nothing to do with their jobs.

Any company that comprehensively tackled the time wasting could see profits jump… Details…

[Internet, Known]

[Excerpt]

Internet abuse in the workplace is an issue in corporations. With statistics showing that employees are using the Internet during work hours for extensive personal use, corporations are striving to better regulate the use of the Internet to increase productivity amongst employees.

Internet Abuse could be defined as:

  •  Performing personal research
  •  E-commerce activities (eBay)
  •  Personal banking activities
  •  Career searching activities
  •  Anything that reduces employee productivity

13. Monitoring employee e-mail Avoid stalking and illegal Internet conduct

[ Pittsburgh Business Times - by Terrence Lewis, May 19, 2000]

[Excerpt]

Employee access to and use of electronic mail and the Internet is increasing at an extraordinary rate. According to one source, U.S. workers currently send more than 1 billion e-mail messages per day. To date, federal and state law regarding the right of private employers to monitor employee use of e-mail and the Internet remains undeveloped and is currently evolving.

Why should employers consider monitoring employee electronic communications and usage? ... What are the statutory bases for employer liability in monitoring employee electronic communications and use?

Are there any published cases in Pennsylvania examining employee privacy claims for employer monitoring of employee e-mail or Internet communications and use... What should employers do to avoid potential liability for monitoring employee e-mail and Internet usage? Details…

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14. Monitoring employee email: Efficient workplaces vs Employee privacy

[By Corey A. Ciocchetti, 7/25/2001]

[Excerpt]

Employee use of electronic mail (e-mail) during business hours is a common characteristic of the 21st century American workplace. According to a recent study, over 130 million workers are currently flooding recipients with 2.8 billion e-mail messages each day.1 Employers provide e-mail services to their employees as an efficient means of facilitating both intra-company communication and communication with the outside client base.

In fact, employers have many legitimate reasons for desiring to monitor their employees' e-mail usage, such as:

  •   Maintaining the company's professional reputation and image;
  •   Maintaining employee productivity;
  •   Preventing and discouraging sexual or other illegal workplace harassment;
  •   Preventing "cyberstalking"7 by employees;
  •   Preventing possible defamation liability;
  •   Preventing employee disclosure of trade secrets and other confidential information; and
  •   Avoiding copyright and other intellectual property infringement from employees illegally downloading software, etc. Details…

15. Network Management

[From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]

[Excerpt]

Network management refers to the activities, methods, procedures, and tools that pertain to the operation, administration, maintenance, and provisioning of networked systems.

Administration deals with keeping track of resources in the network and how they are assigned. It includes all the "housekeeping" that is necessary to keep the network under control. Detials…

16. Network monitoring

[From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]

[Excerpt]

The term network monitoring describes the use of a system that constantly monitors a computer network for slow or failing components and that notifies the network administrator in case of outages via email, pager or other alarms. It is a subset of the functions involved in network management.

Website monitoring service can check HTTP pages, HTTPS, SNMP, FTP, SMTP, POP3, IMAP, DNS, SSH, TELNET, SSL, TCP, ping and a range of other ports with great variety of check intervals from every 4 hours to every one minute. Typically, most network monitoring services test your server anywhere between once-per hour to once-per-minute. Details…

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17. Obscene e-mail puts lawyers in trouble

[BBC.co.uk, 16 December, 2000]

[Excerpt]

A group of law firm workers are discovering the power of the internet as a casually distributed obscene e-mail threatens to cost them their jobs.

The e-mail contained a couple of smutty jokes and an exchange which included a female employee giving explicit details of a sexual act. Details…

18. Protecting privacy and monitoring e-mail

[BBC.co.uk, 5 October, 2000]

[Excerpt]

Companies may start curbing staff surfing in the wake of Government guidelines that give them the right to spy on employees using the phone or e-mail, warn lawyers.

The guidelines try to strike a balance between the right to privacy, the occasional need for companies to get access to employees e-mail, and the demands of law enforcement agencies…

"Companies will have to look closely at how they allow people to use e-mail," said Mr Russell, "Some might say that external e-mails can only be sent with permission." Details…

19. Should your e-mails be screened at work?

[BBC.co.uk, 10 May, 2000]

[Excerpt]

UK employers are keeping a close eye on staff e-mails in an effort to trap those using sexist or racist language.

Automatic scanning equipment is being used to seek out potentially offensive words that set off an internal alarm, and the managers are then alerted.

The action is responding to a change in law that could see employees claiming up to £50,000 for receiving offensive e-mails at work…

People are confusing work email for home email. If the address being used belongs to your employer, you waive all right to privacy when you use it. However, the employer should have in place an Acceptable Use Policy, which states the conditions of use of web/ email/ internet use. Of course employers don't read letters that are sent to your home - it's stupid to draw such a comparison. Closer, but not an exact comparison would be letters to you at work. Many offices have a Post Room that opens any inbound letters. Imagine trying to keep your job if that porn magazine you ordered gets delivered to work... -Graham Freeman, England . Details…

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20. Software watching while you work

[BBC.co.uk, 25 January, 2005]

[Excerpt]

Software that can not only monitor every keystroke and action performed at a PC but also be used as legally binding evidence of wrong-doing has been unveiled.

Worries about cyber-crime and sabotage have prompted many employers to consider monitoring employees.

The developers behind the system claim it is a break-through in the way data is monitored and stored.

They have joined forces to create a system which can monitor computer activity, store it and retrieve disputed files within minutes…

"People need to recognize that you are using a PC as a representative of a company and that employers have a legal requirement to store data… Details…

21. Surfing for porn costs jobs

[BBC.co.uk, September, 2002]

[Excerpt]

UK employers are spending more time disciplining staff over internet and e-mail abuse than any other office offence, a survey has found…

Worries about what staff is doing online have led to a culture of suspicion in offices.

Around 20% of firms now monitor their employee's use of the net and e-mail on a daily basis…

There was more disciplinary action taken over inappropriate surfing and sending pornographic e-mails in the last year than all the cases for dishonesty, violence and health and safety breaches put together. Details…

22. Tech firm in e-mail abuse crackdown

[BBC.co.uk, 17 July, 2002]

[Excerpt]

Hewlett Packard, the US computer giant, has sacked two members of its UK staff and suspended 150 others for alleged e-mail abuse.

The numbers involved suggests that this is one of the biggest cases of its kind so far.

The latest generation of e-mail scanners allows employers to sift workers' correspondence for words deemed unsuitable…Details…

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23. Watching how you work

[BBC.co.uk, January 20, 1999]

[Excerpt]

There can't be many office-workers who don't sometimes play games on their computers, or sneak a look at naked people on the Internet. Email is often used to circulate jokes or snide remarks about colleagues. Most people probably regard it as harmless fun.

But employers can't see it that way. They may be legally liable for downloaded obscenity or defamatory emails. And they don't like their staff wasting time.

Now they have a high-tech means to combat these problems by monitoring - in effect spying - on their employees…

Monitoring internet use, however, is getting progressively easier. New software produced by another company, Omniquad, lets an employer secretly monitor what his staff is doing on their computer terminals…Details…

24. Who’s Snooping on You at Work?

[By MIKE NIZZA, New York Times, June 20, 2008]

[Excerpt]

This week, a federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled [pdf] in favor of Mr. Quon and the three fellow police officers who joined the lawsuit. The unanimous ruling declared that they had a “reasonable expectation of privacy” for text or e-mail messages handled by an outside company like Arch. That means that unless it obtained the employee’s permission or a valid search warrant, the department had no business reading them… Details…

25. Workplace data theft runs rampant

[BBC.co.uk, 15 February, 2004]

[Excerpt]

Office technology makes it much easier for workers to steal important information from their employers, a study has shown.

Research into intellectual property theft found that almost 70% of people have stolen key information from work…

The majority of those questioned, 72%, had no ethical problems stealing information to help them in a new post. Most, 58%, thought that, in moral terms, it ranked with exaggerating insurance claims.

Mr. Watson said filtering tools on e-mail servers could catch some of the intellectual property thieves but just as important were well-enforced policies that reminded employees of their obligations and responsibilities. Details…

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