Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Right to Privacy v. Electronic Monitoring of Employees' Computers

"The right to be let alone is indeed the beginning of all freedom."
-- Justice William O. Douglas
Today, I want to climb aboard the soapbox again to vent about an important matter which should concern all lovers of freedom and the right to privacy. This problem involves the growing lack of privacy in the workplace. Everywhere, employers are regularly intruding into their employees' private matters on employees' computers. According to one source, (the Center of Business Ethics, Bentley College), by 2003, 92 % of all employers were regularly conducting some form of electronic monitoring of their employees. In my opinion, some companies go too far! Many companies regularly fire employees for misuses of the internet and alleged private email misuse. Other companies go further by monitoring employees' IM chats and blogging. And other companies videotape their employees and utilize GPS satellite tracking of employees' cars and cell phones! In most cases, without clear justification, this is outrageous! In my opinion, something must be done to combat this growing problem of government and employers' intrusions into private employee matters. In short, I recommend the development of new legal standards and new criminal laws addressing the invasion of employee privacy, in terms of what employers (and the government) can and cannot do. We already have federal wiretap laws to prevent illicit electronic eavesdropping on private telephone conversations. Now, in my opinion, we also need to begin a dialogue about similar protections for private employee conversations over the internet. As Justice Douglas might conclude, the right to be let alone, including in our private email and internet chats, is an important part of our freedom! What do you think?

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