Privacy at work - who's watching you?

Apr 25 2003 by Brian Amble Print This Article

A high-profile credit card company recently dismissed an employee on the grounds of the contents of his email inbox.

In the USA, more than half of all organisations routinely monitor their email systems, and the trend is on the increase in the UK.

Companies can now check their employees' email without their consent for reasons such as recording evidence of business transactions, monitoring standards or the catch-all 'preventing unauthorised use of the computer system'.

So where should the boundaries lie between your employer's right to know what's happening and your right to privacy? Since the Information Commission has delayed the publication of its new privacy code, employers and employees have been left in the dark.

To what extent should employers have the right to access the contents of its' employee inboxes? How can employers monitor offensive, confidential or illegal messages and material without trawling through everybody's personal email?