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Privacy In The Workplace Essay

2493 words - 10 pages

Privacy in the Workplace

Introduction

Technology has developed in leaps and bounds over the past few decades. The case is that the law always has difficulty keeping pace with new issues and technology and the few laws that are enacted are usually very general and obsucre. The main topic of this paper is to address the effect of technology on privacy in the workplace. We have to have an understanding of privacy before trying to protect it. Based on the Gift of Fire, privacy has three pieces: freedom from intrusion, control of information about one's self, and freedom from surveillance.1 People's rights has always been protected by the constitution such as the Fourth Amendment, which protects people from "unreasonable searches and seizures". As said by Eric Hughes, "Privacy is the power to selectively reveal oneself to the world."2 As written by Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis in 1928 is the right most valued by the American people was "the right to be left alone."3
Previously it took a lot of equipment to monitor a person's actions, but now with technology's development and advancement all it requires is a computer. And there are many mediums which can be monitored such as telephones, email, voice mail, and computers.4 People's rights are protected by many laws, but in private businesses there are few laws protecting an individual's rights. 5 As an employee of a company there is an understanding of the amount of monitoring the employer does. The employer has to decide how much monitoring is necessary to satisfy the company needs without damaging the company's employee morale.6 With all the monitoring done by private businesses they are free to violate employee privacy since the Constitution and the Bill of Rights address only state action and private businesses.7

Privacy in the Workplace

Due to technological developments privacy in the workplace is close to nonexistent. Company's can monitor almost every type of communication that an employee makes and there are very few laws which protect the employee.

One of the few laws which have an affect on the technological medium is the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA).8 The ECPA prohibits the interception of email by unauthorized individuals or individuals working for a government entity, acting without proper warrant.9 ECPA is concerned with people who are not authorized to have access to this information and it wants to keep companyies from trying to intercept valuable information of other companies, but it does not have any specific prohibition for an employer to monitor the e-mail of employees.10

With technologies such as email, voice mail, telephones, and computers the employer has a lot of leeway. Employers can monitor their employees' communications, within reasonable limits.11 When dealing specifically with phone calls the law generally sides with companies, since it is there equipment and should be used generally for business purposes. 12 If a...

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