In my opinion, employees should not be able to use the internet while at work. The computers and networks are business property and are solely used for business transactions. Thus, employers have a duty and a right to ensure proper usage of any, and all, equipment. If employers decide to, they may choose to monitor the usage of the internet to ensure the property is not abused. According to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, 18 USC 2510, et. seq., (www.law.cornell.edu/uscode), federal law allows employers to monitor business calls, however, personal calls are an exception. Under the federal law and employer only has the right to monitor a call until they realize that it is a personal call then must cease monitoring. In the case of Watkins v. L.M. Berry & Co., 704 F.2d 577, 583 (11th Cir. 1983), the court dictated that, "...a manager must cease listening in on an employee call once the call turns personal". When businesses first started using the internet, they did not contemplate developing new technology policies and were very liberal as to the usage of the internet. Eventually allowing liberal usage led to abuse of equipment and work time. Today, people check personal emails and facebook messages (among other social networking sites), take care of online banking, shopping, surf the net leisurely, and chat online. Employers have noticed this distraction severely impacted productivity and performance. Studies show, "Currently, as many as 26 million workers in the United States are monitored in their jobs, and this number will increase as computers are used more and more within companies and as the cost of these monitoring systems goes down" (DeTienne, 1993, p. 33). "By the end of the decade, as many as 30 million people may be constantly monitored in their jobs" (DeTienne, 1993, p. 33).
Whether a company has a right to monitor its employees internet usage has become a controversy. There are a few reasons why employers want to curb internet usage: employee abuse, viruses, and malware and spyware. As employees surf the net, there is an increased chance of infecting the businesses computers so if the company has a policy that outlines technology usage and announces that the company will be monitoring usage, its almost guaranteed to be followed. When a company's computers become infected, it leads to a loss of revenue by creating down time and resources to fix the issues.
Employers are becoming strict for another reasdon, employee abuse. Employees that take advantage of internet usage are precisely why employers are monitoring their employees. Employers expect their employees to be working, not surfing the internet. Work is what the employees are receiving wages for. If employees are concerned about their privacy, then they should not conduct personal business at work.
There is no difference between secret or electronic monitoring and a manager walking around observing employees, other than the method used. ...