Every day people use their personal information in one form or another.
When people pay bills at a store, online or over the phone they are using personal information. When people use their personal information they are knowingly giving it away. However, sometimes people do not know that they are giving their information away; this personal privacy. As an employee a person??™s privacy is limited to what is defined by the employer.
Employers want to be sure that their employees are performing as they should. To ensure that employees are working employers monitor the workplace. Workplace monitoring leads to privacy-invasive monitoring like video monitoring, telephone monitoring, e-mail and Internet filtering, and different types of tests (such as drug and psychological testing).E-mail and Internet Use and PrivacyThe business world is overflowing with new technologies that enable employees to be more efficient at their jobs. This new technology also makes it possible for employers to monitor an employee??™s footsteps. An employer can monitor the phone calls made from company phones, voice and electronic mail on company property, and the use of the Internet through company computers. It is safe to presume that an employer can monitor, which includes listening, watching, and reading all information exchange in the workplace. In some cases company policy may outline employee privacy, yet not implement or respect it.
Employer monitoring in the workplace is unregulated. Employees should learn the employer policies regarding e-mail and Internet use, because if it is outlined in writing (or assured verbally) then employers are bound by it.The email use policy at River Place is that e-mail for work related purposes and employees should refrain from using company e-mail for personal reasons. The reasons for this policy are that employees should be working at all times while on company premises, unless otherwise instructed. In addition it states that e-mail use for personal reasons can expose the company computer systems to unnecessary threats and expenses. For example, at River Place an employee was checking his e-mail at which time he decided to download an attachment that contained a virus. His e-mail provider gave him a warning message and he still proceeded to download the attachment. In this situation, the company computer had an exposure to a virus and the computer was in need of repair, which cost time and money.
The employee caused the main computer to be shut down, which slowed business because other employees could not access contracts and client information. In addition the company entrance system had to be shut down because the operation of the palm-reader access was through the main computer. This incident was the reason for the change in policy.
In the past employees were allowed the use of e-mail on breaks and at off-peak hours of operation. Now employees are no longer permitted the usage of personal e-mail on company computers. Internet use is for work related purposes as well.
Laws and RegulationsCurrently laws regulating employee e-mail and Internet use are few. Federal laws, such as the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA), offer employees privacy in communications. Even though the intent of the ECPA is to stop the intentional interception of electronic communications, employers have found loopholes that have allowed them to conduct employee monitoring (Workplace Privacy, n.
d.). Since the EPCA other legislations have made an effort to increase employee privacy (Workplace Privacy, n.
d.). In the Workplace Privacy article of the Electronic Privacy Information Center website examples are cited:???In 1993, Senator Paul Simon (D-IL) introduced the Privacy for Consumers and Workers Act. The measure would have established a standard for notice, access to information, and use limitations. However, the bill did not leave the committee to which it was assigned. The Notice of Electronic Monitoring Act (NEMA) was introduced by Representative Charles Canady (R-FL) and Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) in 2000. NEMA would have established a private right of action against employers who failed to give notice of wire or network monitoring.
The measure did not leave committee.???Only some states have some type of policy concerning employee email and Internet use. For example, in Colorado and Tennessee public companies have to develop a policy concerning employee e-mail monitoring (State Laws, 2010).
In other states, such as Connecticut and Delaware, employers have to inform employees before they monitor e-mail and Internet use (State Laws, 2010). In some cases the lack of state laws regulating workplace privacy encourages the implementation of electronic monitoring in the workplace.ImplementationCompanies implement e-mail and Internet use policies to define what browsing behavior is acceptable in the workplace and to make sure that employees are following the rules in the workplace. Employers want to avoid Internet threats, such as spyware programs, and malicious viruses that pass into the company network from e-mail and Internet use.
These malicious viruses and programs can corrupt company data or open a security risk by allowing unauthorized third parties to access information. The use of e-mail and Internet policy serves as protection from legal complications that may result from inappropriate material usage at work. An employer is liable for mishaps that an employee may have caused by browsing inappropriate sites or violating applicable laws.In addition to network breach the use of e-mail and the Internet at work can result in lower productivity. Employees may spend more time browsing, shopping online, and chatting than doing work related tasks. The company in turn loses money because of lost productivity. Employee AssumptionsThe assumption of e-mail and Internet use by employees is that it is casual. Employees use e-mail to communicate with coworkers in and out of the workplace.
Most employees assume that because e-mail has login protection that it is private and cannot be accessed by employers. Employees assume that because of their freedom of speech, which includes communicating, they have private e-mails (Knox, 2006). E-mails serve different purposes such as sending documents, having conversations, or asking for information (Knox, 2006).
However, the purpose of an e-mail does not apply to all e-mails. In the workplace e-mails should relate to work. Some employees also assume that employers need justification to monitor their e-mail and Internet use. Other employees may assume that misuse of e-mail and the Internet would only violate the employers??™ policies. Employers are struggling with workplace monitoring and simply violating an employee??™s privacy. One other issue to address is if an employee??™s e-mail and Internet use outside of the workplace may affect the company??™s reputation, thus leading employers to consider a policy regulating this. Employees should acknowledge that employers do not implement monitoring solely to deprive them of e-mail and Internet use, but to avoid ???security risks, sexual harassment, and to ensure the acceptable performance of employees (Workplace Privacy, n.
d.).??? However, employers need to be aware of the effect workplace monitoring has on employees, which include lower morale and more stress (Workplace Privacy, n.d .