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What are the legal and moral implications of internet monitoring on employees?
Computers at workplace, are used by employees for their official work, companies often apply employee monitoring software that lets them track everything workers do on their systems. This is termed as ‘internet monitoring of employees’. Employee monitoring is most useful to the managers for the fact that job performance is value-added. The benefits of employee monitoring are, looking after errors, the employer can also help the organization cut on expensive inaccuracies and helps the employer mend through supervision. The employer can easily identify policy violators for disciplinary action. Employers engage in employee monitoring to track performance, avoid legal liability, protect trade secrets, and address other security concerns. This practice may some-time influence on employee satisfaction due to its impact on privacy (Ball, Daniel and Stride, 2012). As present-day businesses rely more and more on their websites, internet monitoring software guarantees a nearly uninterrupted running of a company’s web presence. Internet facility to the employees is an essential requirement of any employer. The provision of internet facility will enhance the work efficiency of the employees in many ways, and several benefits to the employer. The old-fashioned norms of employment law not only permit electronic monitoring but assumes the legality of its practice as one way of guiding workplace communication and online services (Eivazi, 2011). Employers’ control is a key feature of the employment contract where it creates employers with the power to control, monitor, and direct the work of employees at workplace. Sometimes, the pressure resulting from workplace monitoring can lead to misleading performance results. The essay is structured to delineate advantages of implementing internet monitoring on employees in workplaces, implications on productivity of organizations, and available acceptable suggestions.
A study of the impact of the internet on productivity can be useful for managers by making them aware of the negative effects on productivity and problematic employee behavior (Gumbus and Grodzinsky, 2005). The employee-monitoring-software allows the employer to track everything employees do on their computers. Many workplaces rely heavily on e-mail use and internet access as chief tools of their business. The internet access allows data to be collected, stored, retrieved, and processed at remarkable speed, for businesses. Employers resort to electronic monitoring to protect their business interests and to minimize or prevent exposure to the potential risk of legal liability arising from the misuse of online services at work by employees (Cornelius and Cancer, 2014).
Invasion of privacy is one of the important issues in implementing the internet monitoring on employees in business organizations (Carly, 2013) and in educational institutions (Verton, 2004). Employers have a legal right to monitor productivity of workers while workers have the right to be told how they are watched. Video surveillance is a common method used by employers to maintain employee workstations. Strategically placed video cameras can record and archive the computer usage. Video cameras are legal in the work place without notice, except for offensive locations such as locker rooms and bathrooms. While online services such as e-mail and internet access are being used as an efficient tool of communication at work to help business growth, employers cannot overlook its negative legal effects for their businesses. Employees’ misuse of these services can expose employers, or even themselves, to a new dimension of potential legal liability. Sophisticated monitoring and blocking tools (filters) will continue to be used by organizations to solve productivity issues due to internet misuse (Wen and Lin, 1998). As outlined above, many of these themes map to national and international privacy frameworks and principles, which may provide additional guidance to employers as to balancing employer versus employee rights and responsibilities. There are certain suggestions for problem-free implementation of internet monitoring of employees. Tools such as InterGuard (http://www.interguardsoftware.com/news_articles.html, NetVizor (http://www.netvizor.net), SurveilStar (http://www.surveilstar.com) and RealtimeSpay (http://www. Realtime-spy.com) have been applied as internal threat solutions that contain different modules such as employee monitoring, web filtering, data loss prevention and laptop anti-theft recovery (http://www.interguardsoftware.com/news_articles.html). By recording the computer (PC/Mac) activity (file tracking, e-mails, social media activity, keystrokes, instant messages, web activity and screenshots), these tools help protecting the internal threats and keep the contents compliance and maximize employee productivity. Internet monitoring software also provides nursing of every aspect concerning management solution. Further these tools offer bandwidth and IT traffic monitor which indicates which computer is responsible for most bandwidth consumption in the network. Thus, electronic monitoring has become the ‘community norm’ and a permanent tool of our modern offices (Myria, Kasey, Stephanie and Joy, 2007; Eivazi, 2011). Hence, frame work, involving a specific structure, developed in consultation with employee representatives, delineating the acceptable use of the internet in work places, is one of the common and direct solutions to the legal and moral problems (Gumbus and Grodzinsky, 2006). Eventually, such an internet model solution that sets basic guidelines is required to be made available to all the employees in work place. Employees may also use this model for reasonable private purposes which are consistent with the acceptable use policy.
It may be concluded that Internet monitoring plays a pivotal role in monitoring of the assigned duties of the employees in any business organization. This way of surveillance using modern IT tools such as e-mail communications through internet aids to the growth of companies. Although the advantages and disadvantages of employee monitoring seem to balance out, the disadvantages can easily be smoothed out through the right balance of technology and personal engagement. Therefore, the workplace privacy and employee monitoring can go hand in hand such that the employees do not feel pressured but motivated to achieve their outright best. The aspect of employee monitoring involves different areas of the law, from labor to constitutional. While introducing and adopting such procedures and techniques, certain legal and moral issues such as that need to be faced and solved by the business information system analysts and administrators, are discussed. To prevent or minimize the broad range of risk, coupled with the concealed nature of activities online, employers should take reasonable steps to ensure that workplace online services are not being misused. Taking into consideration the benefits of internet monitoring services upon which our modern workplaces are becoming increasingly dependent for their businesses, such trends need to be continued. The education of employees, as well as employers, with respect to their awareness and better understanding of the risks associated with Internet misuse at work. By considering the present-day advancements in IT, some strategic remedial measures and mitigation options like powerful software programs are highlighted. With the advent of recent cutting-edge technological and modeling tools, it is hoped that more and more fast monitoring / diagnosis techniques and cost-effective solutions to minimize the problems that are being encountered by the business establishments come into the practice, leading to substantial growth in the business organization profiles.
Ball, K., Daniel, E. M. and Stride, C. (2012). Dimensions of employee privacy: an empirical study. Information Technology and People, Vol. 25, Iss:4, pp. 376-394, http://dx.doi.org / 10.1108/09593841211278785
Carly L. H. (2013). The insider threat and employee privacy: An overview of recent case law. Computer Law & Security Review, Vol. 29, pp. 368-381, www.sciencedirect.com, http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1016 / jclsv.2013.05.014
Cornelius J. K. and Cancer de la Guardia, M. E. (2014). Exploring the positive side of personal internet use at work: Does it help in managing the border between work and non-work, Computers in Human Behavior, Vol. 30, pp. 355-360,http://dx.doi.org.ez.library.latrobe.edu.au /10.1016/ j.chb.2013.09.021
Eivazi, K. (2011). Computer use monitoring and privacy at work, Computer Law and Security Review, Vol. 27, pp. 516-523, www.elsevier.com/locate/clsr
Gumbus, A. and Grodzinsky F. (2006). Ethical and managerial implications of internet monitoring, WCOB Faculty Publications. Paper 129, pp. 119-124, http://digitalcommons.sacredheart.edu/wcob_fac/129
Myria, W.A., Kasey L. W., Stephanie J. C. and Joy L. H. (2007). Workplace Surveillance and Managing Privacy Boundaries, Management Communication Quarterly, Vol. 21, No. 2, http://mcq.sagepub.com hosted at http://online.sagepub.com
Verton, D. (2004). Email glitch exposes flaw in privacy law, Computerworld, Vol. 38, No. 28, pp. 1, https://doi.org/10.1108/09593841211278785
Wen, H.J. and Lin, B. (1998). Internet and employee Productivity, Management Decision, Vol. 36, pp. 6, doi:10.1108/00251749810204142
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