Online Monitoring Essay

674 Words Feb 7th, 2014 3 Pages
Online Monitoring:
A Threat to Employee Privacy in the Wired Workplace As the Internet has become an integral tool of businesses, company policies on Internet usage have become as common as policies regarding vacation days or sexual harassment. A 2005 study by the American Management Association and ePolicy Institute found that 76% of companies monitor employees’ use of the Web, and the number of companies that block employees’ access to certain Web sites has increased 27% since 2001 (1). Unlike other company rules, however, Internet usage policies often include language authorizing companies to secretly monitor their employees, a practice that raises questions about rights in the workplace. Although companies often have legitimate
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Another key difference between traditional surveillance and electronic surveillance is that employers can monitor workers’ computer use secretly. One popular monitoring method is keystroke logging, which is done by means of an undetectable program on employees’ computers. The Web site of a vendor for Spector Pro, a popular keystroke logging program, explains that the software can be installed to operate in “Stealth” mode so that it “does not show up as an icon, does not appear in the Windows system tray, . . .[and] cannot be uninstalled without the Spector Pro password which YOU specify” (“Automatically”). As Lane explains, these programs record every key entered into the computer in hidden directories that can later be accessed or uploaded by supervisors; the programs can even scan for keywords tailored to individual companies (128-29).
Some experts have argued that a range of legitimate concerns justifies employer monitoring of employee Internet usage. As PC World columnist Daniel Tynan points out, companies that don’t monitor network traffic can be penalized for their ignorance: “Employees could accidentally (or deliberately) spill confidential information . . . or allow worms to spread throughout a corporate network.” The ePolicy Institute, an organization that advises companies about reducing risks from technology, reported that breaches in computer security cost institutions $100 million in 1999 alone (Flynn).

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