Surveillance Tools in the Work Place

According to some of the articles on surveillance offered for this week’s readings for my social media class, the overall findings suggest that Americans have mostly negative feelings about computer surveillance in the workplace. Some employees defend their actions by arguing that “monitoring of Internet usage is unreasonable search and seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment.” Others argue that the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, which “prohibits the interception and disclosure of verbal and electronic communications,” guarantees privacy. In both cases, the employee is wrong. The fourth amendment only applies to government action and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 allows any company to intercept communications on their systems so long as the company maintains electronic systems as they conduct their business.

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A variety of solutions are available for employers who are interested in limiting “cyberslacking.” These solutions include:

  • Firewalls-a program that filters data coming into the private network or computer system from the Internet connection.
  • Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)-a virtual connection to the organization’s private network through the internet to a remote site or employee.
  • Proxy servers-a server that sits inside of a firewall and makes a request on behalf of the internal clients (employees) to the Internet.
  • Cache servers-specialized computers that temporarily stores (and filters) the Web pages that the user is likely to want.
  • Employee Internet Monitoring (EIM) filtering systems-filtering technology that require all requests for Web pages to “pass through an Internet control point…[then] checks each request to immediately determine whether it should be allowed or denied.”

While I may not like the fact that my day to day operations may be monitored, I do not see any reason why my organization should not have access to how I am spending my time in the office. After all, I am being paid to do work, not surf the internet, gamble, shop and place bids on my Ebay auction items. That said, I was shocked to learn in an American Management Association (AMA) and The ePolicy Institute article entitled, “2005 Electronic Monitoring & Surveillance Survey: Many Companies Monitoring, Recording, Videotaping—and Firing—Employees,” that 11-20% of employers do not notify employees when they are being watched. It would be both courteous and pro-active of any organization to communicate to the employees whether or not we are being monitored—and perhaps even how we are being monitored.


Naffziger, Fred, & Phillips, Larry. “Employee Investigations.” Selected Papers of the Tri-State Academy of Legal Studies in Business, volume 26 (2002 ): pp. 1-18.

Naffziger, Fred, & Phillips, Larry. “Employee Investigations.” Selected Papers of the Tri-State Academy of Legal Studies in Business, volume 26 (2002 ): pp. 1-18.

Fox, M., Larry Phillips, L. & Vaidyanathan, G. “Managing Internet gambling in the workplace.” Online posting. 15 Feb. 2003. 23 June 2008 <news:Firstmonday.org>.

Fox, M., Larry Phillips, L. & Vaidyanathan, G. “Managing Internet gambling in the workplace.” Online posting. 15 Feb. 2003. 23 June 2008 <news:Firstmonday.org>.

American Management Association (AMA) and The ePolicy Institute. “2005 Electronic Monitoring & Surveillance Survey: Many Companies Monitoring, Recording, Videotaping—and Firing—Employees.” Online posting. 18 May 2005. 23 June 2008 <news:http://www.amanet.org/press/amanews/ems05.htm&gt;.

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About themacdoodle

Communications Manager, Creative Strategist, Community Builder, & Possibility Agent
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