Internet Usage Monitoring in the Workplace

With the introduction of the Internet, many employers become wary that their employees may be using the technology for purposes other than work-related.  Nowadays, it is possible for employers to track how their Internet usage of their employees. 

A survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management said that almost three-quarters of companies questioned monitor how their workers use the Internet including checking employee e-mail and reviewing employee phone calls. 

Another study released by the American Management Association stated that businesses in the financial industry such as brokerage houses, banks, and real estate companies, are most likely to monitor their workers’ communications.

Why conduct Internet monitoring?

Employers tend to justify that they need to monitor employees on their Internet usage to see how they spend their work hours.  They could be browsing through pornographic websites, online games, and other sites that are unrelated to work. 

These sites could also secretly bring malicious software into your work PC, which could damage your whole network as well. 

Employers are also concerned whether their employees give away trade secrets to competitors, engage in illegal work conduct, or even using the company’s communications equipment to harass other workers.

Types of employee monitoring

Employees are monitored through different media.  For instance, employee phone calls to clients or customers may be monitored to maintain quality control. 

An employer may set up several monitored phone lines that employees can use for a variety of reasons, but the monitoring should stop once the employer realizes that the phone calls are for personal reasons. 

Also, employees who are aware of having their phone calls monitored could simply use their mobile phones or payphones to avoid monitoring.

Another method of monitoring is through the employee’s computer.  Employers can use several computer software that enables them to see what employees read on the computer screen, as well as the files in computer terminals and hard disks.  Some software can also read e-mails from employees and even what keys they are typing in.

Monitoring versus privacy

Although the intentions of employers in regards to Internet monitoring may be good, they have to be aware that it is also a question on privacy. 

In order to maintain a balance between the employer’s requirements for information and the employee’s right to privacy, the employer should say which personal information it collects, as well as the reason and purpose in doing it. 

The employees should also be knowledgeable and consented that their personal information are being collected, used, and disclosed.  Also, personal information should be collected by fair and lawful means.

The employer should use personal information only for the purposes that it collected for and keep it only as long as it is needed for that particular purpose. 

Meanwhile, all employees’ personal information should be accurate, complete, and up-to-date.  Finally, the employees should be able to access their personal information so that they could challenge the accuracy and completeness of it.

 
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