Employee Privacy Report

Employee Privacy Report
Jane Doe
University of Phoenix
COMM 285 Business Communications
Ms. Julie Sanborn
May 15, 2010

This report will explain the importance of e-mail use, internet use, and privacy policy in the workplace. The current laws regulating employee e-mail and internet privacy will also be discussed as well as why companies implement these policies. Further, this paper will highlight the assumptions employees might make about their privacy at work and how these polices affect employees privacy at work.
E-mail, Internet use and Privacy Policy at the job
In the military, e-mail and internet usage is very limited and closely monitored. Military personnel use internet and e-mail related to official duties only and not for personal uses. The reason why the military is so strict about internet usage is because government computers contain critical information that when compromised or exposed to malicious viruses or spyware, can cause significant damage to military global security. All military personnel must complete two types of training prior to being granted access to their network. This training is computer based about Information Protection and Assurance. Certain websites have been blocked from government computers for example the only email that is available is an individual??™s government account. Personal email accounts such as Yahoo, Hotmail, etc. are not allowed and will be denied access in government computers. Under no circumstances will the military use their internet network to access any pornographic websites or any other prohibited content. By engaging in such activities can lead to reprimand and further administrative action.
E-mail transactions should only contain work related material and messages that contain prohibited items should be deleted. Furthermore, any e-mail that discriminates other employees is considered a violation of the harassment policy. To ensure information protection security, military government computers prohibits any downloading of any media, portable hard drives, or software from unauthorized websites. The use of authorized portable hard drives must be approved by the computer systems administrator. When plugging the aforementioned items in a computer without proper authorization will cause the computer to shut down and the computer systems administrator will be notified for any further actions.
Laws regulating employee email and Internet privacy
When an individual becomes an employee of a company, their right to privacy is increasingly dominated by their employers. According to Friedman & Reed (2007), ???several factors have influenced this wearing down of workplace privacy to include an increased competitive business environment, legislation ostensibly enacted to protect individuals??™ privacy but which also largely acts to protect employers??™ interest, new technology enhances employers??™ ability to monitor electronic communications, and the need to avoid costly lawsuits??? (p. 76). The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) sets the guidelines and provisions for access, use, disclosure, interception, and privacy protections of all electronic communication. This law was established in 1986 and covers various forms of wire and electronic communications. ECPA prohibits unlawful access and certain disclosures of communication content. Further, this law ???prevents government entities from requiring disclosure of electronic communications from a provider without proper procedure???, (legal.web n.d.). Although this Act prohibits interception against electronic communication, the exceptions includes very little protection for employees against a workplace??™s e-mail monitoring.
Companies implement e-mail and Internet use policies
Companies should strictly implement their e-mail and internet usage polices for several reasons. E-mail and internet polices are significantly important to avoid any violation of laws and regulations. Employees should be told what they can and cannot do regarding electronic internet communications. For example if prohibited content such as pornography was exchanged through a company??™s computer network, legal implications would generate thus jeopardizing the company??™s reputation and ethical laws. To avoid such legal dilemmas, a company should establish clear guidelines to inform their employees of e-mail and internet usages. By implementing policies regarding e-mail and internet usage, a company can ensure their resources are not being misused or wasted for an employee??™s personal interest or entertainment which instead should only be used for work related purposes. According to Friedman & (2007), ???If employers are ultimately responsible for anticipating illegal behavior stemming from employees??™ workplace use of employer provided e-mail accounts as well as the employees??™ own personal web-based e-mail accounts, then employers should consider expanding their computer monitoring policies to cover such use??? (p. 80).
A company can also enhance their security measures when they implement e-mail and internet usage policies. Downloading malicious spyware or viruses inadvertently can cause harm to critical information by possibly destroying important data stored in a company??™s database or network. Employees should be familiar regarding safe use of a company??™s computer networks to avoid any potential security threats.
Assumptions employees make about privacy at work
An assumption that an employee might believe about privacy at work is their internet and e-mail usage being closely monitored to ensure all electronic communications are made for official use only and not for personal purposes such as personal e-mail or internet shopping. Employers can monitor an employee??™s personal usage after notifying the employees, this ensures the company??™s security is not tampered and the employee is not abusing the resources of the organization. Furthermore, monitoring such activities may become necessary to ensure the employee is not exposed to offensive or prohibited content. The policies affect employee privacy at work significantly because it gives employers a chance to know exactly what their employees are doing when communicating electronically. An employee??™s privacy would be strictly limited only to ensure the company??™s information is secure from any possible threats.
In conclusion, e-mail use, internet use, and privacy policies are considerably important issues that should be addressed in the workplace. Companies should clearly identify their e-mail and internet polices to their employees to avoid misuse of a company??™s network. Understanding these policies can also prevent any security threats that can cause damage to critical data.

Reference
Friedman, B., & Reed, L. (2007, June). Workplace privacy: Employee relations and legal implications of monitoring employee e-mail use. Employee Responsibilities & Rights Journal, 19(2), 75. Retrieved May 15, 2010, from University of Phoenix Library.
Locker, K.O., and Kienzler, D.S. (2008). Business and administrative communication (8th ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill.
Legal, n.d., retrieved May 15, 2010 from http://legal.web.aol.com/resources/legislation/ecpa.html