Monitoring Employee Internet Use: Is It Bad Business?

from the let's-have-a-debate dept

There’s been some debate here before over whether or not monitoring employees’ internet usage is good or bad for business. I still believe it’s a bad policy, showing your employees that you don’t trust them. If you think they’re going to slack off and not do the work they were hired to do, then why did you hire them in the first place. The article here quotes people on both sides of the question, and the guy who is against monitoring makes some really good points about how monitoring is a violation of privacy and could actually decrease productivity. Everyone seems to agree that it makes sense to have a clear and reasonable policy on internet usage – but that doesn’t mean you have to then spy on employees to make sure they’re following it.

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Comments on “Monitoring Employee Internet Use: Is It Bad Business?”

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Uggah Buggah says:

No Subject Given

Most of these policies just exist as safety nets anyway….

If they’re looking for a reason to fire a someone they don’t like, they dredge up an internet report that says they spent half of Wednesday looking at sports websites….

Otherwise most fortune 100’s track everything but never do anything with the info…other than use it as a tool of selective extortion.

LittleW0lf says:

Re: No Subject Given

Otherwise most fortune 100’s track everything but never do anything with the info…other than use it as a tool of selective extortion.

Agree, however there is one further point which could get those who monitor traffic into hot water…IANAL, however the Prodigy case could really get these folks in serious trouble.

In the prodigy case, which happened some time ago, so I am repeating it for the sake of those not on the net in 1994-95 time frame, Prodigy was sued and lost because they monitored network traffic and did not stop a case of libel by one of their customers. The court decided that because Prodigy was monitoring their customer’s habits online, they were a publisher of their customer’s work instead of merely a distributor like the phone company, which would not be found liable due to not monitoring their customers.

The same could be true for businesses which have a monitor policy who monitor but do not act on a criminal activity occuring on their network. They could be found neglegent for not acting when they knew something was happening that shouldn’t. That is precisely why those who monitor MUST act on all potential criminal activity, which very few who have monitoring policies do.

This is something that was not stated in the article which should have been stated. In most cases it is safer to not monitor than it is to monitor, the law always allows you the opportunity of acting once it is brought to your attention without being liable…which reduces the amount of false alarms.

Agent Orange (user link) says:

Bad for business - yes, it is.

As a former employee of one of the firms that makes this type of software, I can tell you that it is bad for business, and even worse, it is never enforced equally. It is one thing for companies to have a policy, but entirely different to wield it unequally. This policy is almost NEVER enforced against the worst offenders at the highest levels of management – because they dictate it so, even in public companies.

I say if they are going to do so – then the policies must be applied equally, or they are nothing more than bulls**t being used by management to harass employees. The companies that make this sort of software are typically hotbeds of paranoia as well – they monitor their own employees – phones, e-mail, net usage, etc. It is not a good place to work at all.

Besides, who wants to buy this crap – repressive regimes that do not value freedom of thought or expression (like China for example). It all smacks of big brother and being so paranoid that you forge an environment of distrust between management and employees. Would you work for such a company?

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