Some Organizations Have The Technology To Monitor All The Electronic Activities Of Its Staff, From E Mail To Keystrokes. Is This Acceptable?

1075 words - 4 pages

Privacy is an equivocal issue in contemporary times, especially in a world where people are becoming more and more comfortable leading their lives through more modern technology such as the World Wide Web and the Internet. Companies nowadays can monitor exactly what their employees partake in on the Internet, and they do - 77% of them. This action is not without warrant as the company has its best interests as well at the interests of all its employees in mind, but is it really necessary to go as far as reading personal e-mails? The employer's ethics of privacy and the involvement of the law should be challenged in order to contrive possible solutions to the problem of infringement of privacy in the workplace.The reason companies monitor employees is because they are concerned with whether or not the workplace is a safe and productive environment. A host of problems may arise with the misuse of privileges granted by a company with regards to the Internet - the most significant being the loss of productivity. How much money is a company losing when John Doe browses the Internet and 30-40% of this is not related to work? Not only this, but other issues are raised as well, such as safety. In a survey conducted by Elron Software of Burlington, Massachusetts, one in five employees receives at least one potentially offensive e-mail per month. There is no doubt that companies hold a certain amount of justification in their actions, however, the perspective of the employee must be taken into account as well. Is all this snooping really necessary on behalf of the company? It is ludicrous to think that someone could be behind your shoulder, watching everything you do at work, but this is the case. "Employers who monitor Web traffic in the traditional manner create a picture window on their employees' private lives," says Lewis Maltby, the president of National Workrights Institute, a nonprofit organization. Employees can be left feeling humiliated and insecure after their personal information has been divulged, and this can result in a backlash of disgruntled employees, not to mention numerous lawsuits. If a company is allowed to monitor its employees without restraint, who is to say that other organizations or people are not allowed to do so as well? Is this monitoring constitutional? Perhaps the law has something to say about this issue and the implications it imposes.According to the United States Supreme Court, citizens are protected under the Fourth Amendment (freedom from search and seizure without a warrant) when there is some expectation of privacy. However, without a reasonable expectation of privacy, there is no privacy right to protect. According to the Supreme Court, if an employee does something online without knowing that they are being monitored, they have the right to sue the company for infringement of privacy. This however wasn't the case in Smyth vs. Pillsbury Co., where an employee was fired for sending inappropriate e-mails over the...

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