Can My Boss Do That? Computer Monitoring

Assume your boss can monitor any company-owned computer, PDA, or phone – and act on what they find. Deleted emails and computer files are not completely gone. If it was ever on your computer, it can still be found.

They may find out personal things that it’s just not good for a boss to know. Or, they may take advantage of being able to spy on workers.

employee monitoring

Your boss can monitor:

  • Internet use
  • Software downloads
  • Documents or files stored on your computer
  • What websites you visit and how long you stay
  • Anything that is displayed on your computer screen
  • How long you’re on your computer
  • How fast you type
  • If you type any key words from a list
  • E-mails (that you get or send). Emails can be read or automatically screened for certain words. Even if you are using a private email system on a work computer, those emails could be read.
  • Instant messaging and chatting

Bosses say they monitor their employees’ computer because they’re worried about:

  • workers wasting time
  • bandwidth use (when large files are downloaded)
  • exposing their computer systems to viruses
  • making sure that employees do not share secret company information
  • making sure employees don’t send emails that harass another worker, prove discrimination, or could be a problem in a lawsuit

Computer monitoring is not the best way to make sure your employees are doing good work — good managers look at the quality of work and how much workers are producing.

Protect Yourself

For most workers, you’re better of if you never have a problem because there’s nothing that would be a problem for your employer to find on your work computer.

It is better to use a personal email account (like Gmail or yahoo), instead of a work email, but that doesn’t give you total protection – there are ways to monitor your private emails sent from a work computer. Even with a separate account, there can also be problems if your boss monitors how much time employees spend on the internet and which sites.

Find out about any policies (in the handbook or elsewhere):

  • when they monitor workers
  • what kind of monitoring they do
  • how data from the monitoring is used
  • rules about personal use of company equipment

Don’t assume they’re following their own rules. Even without a policy, or no matter what the policy says, your boss may be monitoring your computer.

They can monitor your private computer use – even if they say that certain personal use is permitted.

Without union protection, they can change any rule at any time, and fire you even if you’re following their rules.

Even if your employer doesn’t monitor your email, don’t forget that emails can still be subpoenaed during a law suit.

What protections do workers have?

It’s hard say whether any particular worker has protection from monitoring in a specific situation because courts make different decisions in different areas. Some of the things that courts consider include:

  • if they had a good business reason for looking in workers’ computer files;
  • if there’s a policy or workers were told they were being monitored;
  • if workers can show they expected privacy on the computer (for example, you password protected your files).

Despite the name, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) usually does not stop bosses from reading your, um, electronic communications – email, instant messaging, etc. For most workers, it only covers listening to workers’ private conversations. It doesn’t cover situations when the company owns the computer, phone, GPS, or provides the internet access which it is monitoring.

Some union contracts or state laws may limit an employer’s ability to monitor your computer activity.

Workers that have additional protection

If you have a union, you have more protection. Unions can negotiate over monitoring, how the information from monitoring is used, and access to data (which can help make sure everyone is treated the same). Union workers always have the right to fight a discipline or firing, including the information it’s based on.

You may have some protection if you are communicating with your coworkers about work conditions, under laws that protect an employee’s ability to engage in concerted activity. If you have been fired or disciplined for complaining about your working conditions to other coworkers using e-mail, or for using your work computer for union organizing activities,

If you are fired for writing emails about something at work that’s illegal (discrimination, breaking wage laws, etc) that you’re trying to stop, you may have protection under anti-retaliation or whistleblower laws.


SurveilStar is an ultimate employee monitoring software and parental control software which can help monitor computer activities and protect data security. You can also block files uploading and sharing to prevent data leakage. Including:

computer monitoring

  • View Real-time Screen Snapshot
  • Monitor Skype or Other Chat/IM Activity
  • Record Emails
  • Track web browsing history
  • Block access to any website
  • Remote PC Maintenance
  • Program Activity

 

If you would like to record and control all your children or employees’ activities on working PC, SurveilStar Monitoring would be your best choice.

A 30-day free trial version of this professional computer monitoring and tracking software is available. Feel free to download and try to check what your employees and children have done on PC.

Download

 

Reference: http://www.staffmonitoring.com/

The Employee Computer Monitoring Law

As an employer, you should read the employee monitoring law below if you want to understand the legalities of employee monitoring. In short, it says that you, the employer, can monitor your employees’ actions on your computers. Employers should have an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) in place that is made known to all their employees and they should be made aware that their computers and Internet activity are being monitored. Basically the law states that you can do whatever you want because the computers and the work done on them is your property.

The following article appeared in the journal “Computer Law & Security Report”, Vol 19 No 5

Employee Monitoring – Private Rights and Public Policy

The Information Commissioner published the final code of practice for the use of personal data obtained by employers as a result of monitoring at work (the “Code”) on 11 June 2003. This article reviews the Code and compares it to the earlier drafts published by the Data Protection Commissioner in October 2000 (the “DPC Draft Code”) and the Information Commissioner in July 2002 (the “IC Draft Code”). The comparison will examine how in the field of data protection public policy resolves the common tensions between upholding private rights and supporting commercial interests.

The Code

The Code recognizes that employers have a primary obligation to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 (the “1998 Act”). It is implied in the opening remarks at Section 2 of the Code that the purpose of the 1998 Act is to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of employees, notably their rights to privacy. Monitoring systems must, therefore, respect these fundamental rights and freedoms as well as contribute to economic and social progress, trade expansion and the well being of individuals.

The Code, given that it is part of a wider code of practice for employment practices, addresses head on the competing interests that lie behind data processing. The Code notes that balancing these interests is made more difficult by the fact that “it is not always easy to draw a distinction between work-place and private information”.

The Code distinguishes between two types of monitoring. “Systematic monitoring” is the routine monitoring of all or a particular group of employees and “occasional monitoring” is monitoring as a short-term measure to respond to a particular need. As systematic monitoring is likely to be the most problematic, this is the type of monitoring which the Code principally addresses. To emphasize the point that the Code is more relevant to larger employers, the new Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas, insisted that a short guidance note addressed to small businesses be published at the same time as the Code.

The key to compliant monitoring under the Code is the implementation of an impact assessments procedure. The procedure outlined in the Code should be familiar to any employer used to assessing risk, for instance to comply with its obligations under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. Unlike health and safety law, there is no legal requirement for employers to document formally any assessments that are made. However, as these assessments would indicate that the employer was following the Code, they would be influential should the employer find itself on the receiving end of an Information

Commissioner’s investigation. It should be noted that the first step in the Information Commissioner’s audit procedure when investigating a data controller, after any preparatory meeting or visit, is to review relevant documentation. The Code sets out the requirements for impact assessments. They should identify the purpose of the proposed monitoring and its expected benefits as well as identify the adverse impact of the monitoring, the alternatives considered and other monitoring obligations to enable the employer to set out a conclusive justification for the monitoring.

The proportionality and lawfulness of any monitoring is therefore determined by the employer’s judgment of the benefits of any monitoring against the adverse impact of that monitoring. The Code sets out factors that should be considered when assessing adverse impacts, which include consideration of the level of intrusion into the private lives of the employees via interference with their private e-mails, telephone calls or other correspondence. In considering alternatives to monitoring, the Code recommends use of targeted or automated monitoring to reduce intrusion to employees in the workplace. The Code calls for employers to come to “a conscious decision as to whether the current or proposed method of monitoring is justified”. This can only be achieved after a proper examination of the adverse impact of any monitoring and consideration of all alternatives to it.

The Code includes a number of good practice recommendations, which are set out in section 3 of the Code and are explained in further detail in separate Supporting Guidance (the “Guidance”). These include the Information Commissioner’s “Core Principles” for monitoring, which are”

It will usually be intrusive to monitor your workers.

Workers have legitimate expectations that they can keep their personal lives private and that they are also entitled to a degree of privacy in the work environment.

If employers wish to monitor their workers, they should be clear about the purpose and satisfied that the particular monitoring arrangement is justified by real benefits that will be delivered.

Workers should be aware of the nature, extent and reasons for any monitoring, unless (exceptionally) covert monitoring is justified.

In any event, workers’ awareness will influence their expectations.

The area of most controversy has been the monitoring of electronic communications of employees. The Code recognizes this by setting out a number of data protection issues and points that should be incorporated into employers’ policies on the use of electronic communications. The Information Commissioner also includes under each guidance note in the Guidance a helpful list of key points and possible actions for employers to consider. The Guidance includes an explanation of the regulations made under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 that permit businesses in most cases to be able to intercept electronic communications (the “Lawful Business Practice Regulations”).

Disclaimer: This is the latest law to the best of my knowledge. As an employer, you should talk with your lawyer to get the most recent laws on the subject of employee computer monitoring.


SurveilStar is an ultimate employee monitoring software and parental control software which can help monitor computer activities and protect data security. You can also block files uploading and sharing to prevent data leakage. Including:

computer monitoring

  • View Real-time Screen Snapshot
  • Monitor Skype or Other Chat/IM Activity
  • Record Emails
  • Track web browsing history
  • Block access to any website
  • Remote PC Maintenance
  • Program Activity

 

If you would like to record and control all your children or employees’ activities on working PC, SurveilStar Monitoring would be your best choice.

A 30-day free trial version of this professional computer monitoring and tracking software is available. Feel free to download and try to check what your employees and children have done on PC.

Download

 

Reference: http://www.staffmonitoring.com/