Essay On Workplace Surveillance

3419 Words 14 Pages
Register to read the introduction… In fact, employers eavesdrop on approximately 400 million phone calls annually.7 Because the Electronic Communication Privacy Act of 1986 (which forbids eavesdropping on conversations without the consent of a party in the conversation) allows employers to listen to job-related conversations, employers possess almost unrestricted freedom to eavesdrop; they can always argue that it takes a few minutes to decide if a call is personal or job-related. Employers also utilize video cameras to monitor employee activities. For instance, instead of using programs to track computer usage, they direct cameras toward computer screen to spot inappropriate use company resources. Employers justify such extensive surveillance as a social norm, referring to widespread acceptance of open space cubicles, shared desk space, and networked computers. Furthermore, they argue that they have a legal right to view all work done on their …show more content…
For instance, using the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA)—which divides electronic communications into either stored communication or communication in transit—the courts consistently ruled that since email is not considered communication in transit (it is only illegal to intercept communication) because while email sits on a server waiting to be delivered it is not moving anywhere; therefore the ECPA does not guarantee its protection. …show more content…
However, since the US Supreme Court has upheld an implied right to privacy, employees contend that the implied right to privacy should carry over to the workplace. To employees, unrestricted workplace surveillance would degrade corporate professionalism; they argue that such policies “would lower employee morale, create an atmosphere of distrust, and interfere with employees’ reasonable expectation of privacy.”14 Even as judicial and legislative sentiments have begun to foster some sympathy for employee privacy, the current pro-surveillance system overwhelms the pro-privacy movement. For example, despite Congressional consideration of the Notice of Electronic Monitoring Act (NEMA)—which would require employers to provide clear and conspicuous notice (such as the types of activities being monitored, the method of monitoring, and how the recorded information is stored and disclosed) before implementing surveillance. As with many other privacy initiatives, the NEMA bill stalled in committee and has yet to be

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