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In EU, Internet Use From Work May Be Protected 146

Posted by Zonk
from the just-because-they-can-see-you dept.
athloi wrote with a link to an Ars Technica article on a case involving the right to privacy on the internet. "A Welsh university employee has successfully sued the UK government in the EU court of human rights over monitoring of her personal internet use from work. According to the complaint, the woman's e-mail, phone, Internet, and fax usage were all monitored by the Deputy Principal (DP) of the college, who appears to have taken a sharp dislike to her. The woman claimed that her human rights were being abused, and pointed specifically to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which governs private and family life." The courts agreed; despite a lack of a notion of 'privacy' in English law, the EU convention forced their hand. The ruling doesn't try to dissuade employers from monitoring employees, but does encourage them to inform employees about surveillance.
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In EU, Internet Use From Work May Be Protected

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  • by Realistic_Dragon (655151) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @01:47PM (#18679751) Homepage
    I have never worked at a place that didn't have an AUP that wen't roughly along the lines of:

    Do anything that would get us sued and you will be fired. Don't do your job and you will be fired.

    Since the former covers porn (respect at work acts) and the latter covers goofing off all day, unless you happen to be so good at your job that you can still manage to get everything done *and* goof off, then all eventualities are covered.
    • The company I work for now has no AUP. None at all. I think it's insane, but they don't see the value in it.

      However, anything you do using your employer's equipment using services paid for by your employer is audit-able by your employer. Should not be a surprise.

      I suspect there's more to this. Most likely she's one of those people who spends most of her day on IM and making personal phone calls instead of doing her job. Or posting /.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gurps_npc (621217)
      Note, I, and many of us here, are in fact so good that we can still manage to get everything done and still goof off.

      Otherwise, we would not have time to post at Slashdot during the day.

    • I have never worked at a place that didn't have an AUP that wen't roughly along the lines of:

      Do anything that would get us sued and you will be fired. Don't do your job and you will be fired.


      You didn't say anything about them watching you. It's one thing for a company to make that statement, its another for them to monitor every single resource you use (without notifying you) to ensure you are complying with that statement.
    • unless you happen to be so good at your job that you can still manage to get everything done *and* goof off, then all eventualities are covered.

      Ahhh. I wish it was that easy. The matter of the fact is that everybody goofs off and then they have to stay in late to finish the work they should've done during the day, and then they don't even finish it and act all stressed out and such bullshit. You, Mr "so good at your job" on the other hand, who gets everything done and dusted on time, will get the troubl

    • This may come as a shock to you, but national and supra-national law trumps pseudo-legalistic "Ts & Cs", AUPs, local security policies etc etc.

      Local DACH privacy laws already prevent companies from, eg., doing automated spam-filtering on their employees' makil accounts. Mad as toast? yes I agree, but that's the law.

  • I thought that when you began monitoring someone you were to inform them that there was a chance that they could be under monitoring or could at any time be monitored.

    Eh. What do I know. I signed up for a monitoring service when I entered my college Dorm and brought my computer to "Operation (screw over you) PC" on move in day.
  • by redelm (54142) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @01:50PM (#18679809) Homepage
    The Eu directives are quite stark and member nations can't easily bypass them. Or at least, not without consequences of appearing to throw out the whole union.

    In this case, the snooping would appear to be more than warrented by employee productivity or asset/network integrity. Very targetted, and unarguably an abuse of employer power. Something dreaded in the EU and prohibited by a whole host of laws.

    I would hope that even in the US this sort of inter-personal grudge nursing would be similarly identified as malfeasance. The snoopers boss ought to fire her for abuse of company assets and damage to reputation. Snooping is never free.

    • In this case, the snooping would appear to be more than warrented by employee productivity or asset/network integrity.

      First, s/warrented/warranted/

      But that's a minor nit. What I am actually writing to complain about :) is the use of the phrase "more than warranted". In English this means that it is not just warranted, but completely warranted. (And in English, these phrases mean different things!) The phrase you want is "more than is warranted".

      HTH, HAND.

    • by Cederic (9623)

      I believe there is case law in the UK that you can't fire someone for the same activities accepted as the norm within the company. Or more specifically, if it's quite normal for people to use the phone and email system for private matters, then that ceases to be a sackable offence, even if it's against the defined policy.

      I'm sure excessive use would still be an acceptable reason, but that's rather more difficult to prove.

      Incidentally, as the article mentioned, the snooping is far from prohibited by law. Ind
    • by julesh (229690)
      The Eu directives are quite stark and member nations can't easily bypass them

      The European Convention on Human Rights is not an EU directive; it is an international treaty governed by the Council of Europe that predates the existence of the EEC by 7 years and the EU by 25 years. There is no requirement that EU members be signatories, AFAIK, although it happens that all of them are (all European countries other than Belarus are).
  • Trolling headline (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @01:53PM (#18679855) Journal
    FTA:

    Because the woman had not been warned that she might be monitored at work, she had a "reasonable expectation as to the privacy of calls made from her work telephone." Internet usage received the same protection. In 2000, the UK did pass legislation that gave businesses certain rights with which they could monitor the e-mail and phone usage of their employees, but the law had not come into force when the surveillance in question took place.

    Sure, getting people to read article/comments is important, but perhaps a little accuracy in headlines is appropriate?

    It is still quite legal for an employer in the EU to declare that its computers, phones, etc are for business use only, and that correspondence will be monitored. This does not contravene Article 8, since only *private* correspondence is protected by Article 8; use of company machines for correspondence therefore makes such correspondence not private.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gbjbaanb (229885)
      I think most terms of employment make this clear (somewhere in the 50-page employee handbook :) ) that the facilities provided by the company for you to perform your work on may be monitored at any time. If not, remember to put one in yours if you ever start a company or you may end up paying someone to surf porn all day.
      • Re:Trolling headline (Score:4, Interesting)

        by jez9999 (618189) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @03:17PM (#18681159) Homepage Journal
        You shouldn't really need to monitor their browsing/e-mail unless they're not getting the results required. I'm a strong believe that employees should be judged on what they achieve, not how they achieve it. If they can view port 80% of the day and be acceptably productive, so be it.
        • by Cederic (9623)

          If they view something that can be interpreted as sexually, racially, or some otherly discriminatory then anybody else seeing it on their screen can raise a grievance about it.

          If they're doing non-work things for 80% of the day then unless they're a security guard sat a desk waiting for someone to break in then they're highly unlikely to be acceptably productive. They may have completed all the work, they may do as much work as their colleagues, but if they're that good, give them more work to do.

          Finally, m
          • by gbjbaanb (229885)
            they may do as much work as their colleagues,

            I think that measuring an employee's productivity against their peers is a bad idea in this instance - if the employee is goofing off 80% of the day, yet still keeping up with the colleagues, then there's a very good chance that they are also goofing off all the time too!
          • if they're that good, give them more work to do.
            I think there are words "and raise their pay" missing from that sentence of yours somewhere. Otherwise why should they do more work?
        • You shouldn't really need to monitor their browsing/e-mail unless they're not getting the results required.

          What about filtering mail for spam and malware? What about filtering HTTP for malware and other badness, come to that? This (the scenario in the article) is a corner-case, in that someone was clearly going out of their way to breach another individual's privacy. It remains to be seen which way the courts will jump on mass surveillance of everyone, disclosed in Ts& Cs, and where it's done by automated systems rather than humans.

          Do you have a "reasonable expectation of privacy" when using work email

        • by julesh (229690)
          If they can view port 80% of the day and be acceptably productive, so be it.

          Viewing it isn't the problem. It's if they start drinking it you need to worry about them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      It is still quite legal for an employer in the EU to declare that its computers, phones, etc are for business use only, and that correspondence will be monitored.

      That's a very bold statement. Care to back it up with sources?

      We should also note that there is a difference between monitoring and intercepting communications. In essence, the former is looking at things like where an e-mail going from and to or the addresses of web sites visited, while the latter involves observing the content. This ruling

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by yuna49 (905461)
        We should also note that there is a difference between monitoring and intercepting communications. In essence, the former is looking at things like where an e-mail going from and to or the addresses of web sites visited, while the latter involves observing the content. This ruling seems to refer only to monitoring communications.

        The article explicitly states that this is precisely what happened. The contents of her communications were not monitored, but their destinations (telephone numbers, web sites, etc
        • by fyngyrz (762201) *
          I have no sympathy for such people.

          I, on the other hand, have no sympathy for people who view porn as some kind of unnatural interest, somehow lower than, for instance, an interest in needlepoint or mythology.

          It is highly unfortunate that the socially retarded contingent that fears and attempts to regulate sexuality has managed to get their attitudes enshrined into law in many venues. Just one more despicable aspect of mommy-style government.

        • I know people on Slashdot don't like to hear this, but I don't have any problem with this at all. People working on their employer's premises using their employer's systems should not have free rein to surf to their hearts' content, chat with dozens of friends on IM, or send emails to all their closest friends.

          Perhaps not, but you imply a black and white classification where no shades of grey exist. There are options in between people freeloading all day and people having no access. For example, if I te

  • by emor8t (1033068)
    Part of me says employers shouldnt be able to watch employees internet actions for this very reason (targeting specific employees) The other part of me says, if your that worried about it, why are you doing it at work?
    • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) * <lajollahomeless@hotmail.com> on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @02:03PM (#18680013) Homepage Journal
      The point is that, if a person in a priveleged position takes an interest (with whatever motive) in a subordinate employee, the very ability to monitor their computer usage at a near moment-by-moment screencap level is separated from aggravated stalking by nothing more than the definition of the law with respect to employer-employee relationships. Being able to spy on an employee, even if they know you are spying on them, gives the aggressor an enormous advantage should they have an interest in manipulating the target--for love, money, lu5t, political position, social control, or whatever other motive.

      I have no problem with my employer monitoring internet usage to make certain that I'm not sabotaging the business. At the same time I think there is a reasonable expectation that no one employee is monitored any more closely or hounded any more severely than any other employee. With the way AUPs and employee agreements are currently written (completely one-sided) one can be working in an environment where 4 hours of casual use/day is allowed but woe to the one employee who is targetted should they check their e-mail even once.

      Giving free reign to employers to selectively enforce a zero-tolerance policy justified by any arbitrary excuse is a recipe, an open invitation even, for abuse--to the level which would be considered aggravated stalking in any other environment.
      • by iminplaya (723125)
        In my dream world a well organized work force will dispatch the problem quite swiftly. In the real world the fight will drag on with uncertain results.
        • What do you perceive to be the problem?
          • by iminplaya (723125)
            Simply a group of people who seem to be incapable of speaking with one voice. I do accept the premise that when on company time and using company property, you give up many rights you would have at home or on public property. So if the workers want better accommodations, unity is the way to bring it about. The workers, like the customers, have the power to set the rules. I am uncertain as to whether that has occurred to them yet. And it won't matter whose property they're on. The worker simply must state th
            • What you've described is the system of divide and conquer. A group of employees cannot divide and conquer their management as easily as the management can isolate and destroy the lead employees--the rest fall back in line very quickly after watching one or two token sacrifices (which have all the more impact if the best and the brightest are chosen to be the recipients of a brutal demonstration of managerial and corporate authority). All of this is made possible only by ensuring that the company always ha
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by gideon85 (1086727)
      The whole issue being brought forth by this posting is private rights versus public rights specifically business and job related. When you are at work what you do, say, and how you act all impact you. Without businesses being able to monitor employees they couldn't protect their rights properly and since your supposed to be a fundamentally good employee anyways you should want your business to be able to protect itself. I have worked for a huge corporation and everything I did at my workstation was monitore
  • She should have faxed some electricity before going to work.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Isn't this more of a case of a woman being harassed or stalked rather than having her "privacy" invaded?

    How can you have any expectation of privacy when using company resources to have your private communications? Just step out of the work place, use your private cell phone, and conduct your private business.
    • by hey! (33014)
      Privacy is extraordinarily poorly defined for something we value so much.

      There is information privacy; things about you that you just don't want known. There is decisional privacy; decisions that are yours to make (e.g. US court reasoning in Roe v. Wade and other "substantive due process" cases). I think many people experience spam and pop ups as a kind of privacy issue; you might call it "attentional" privacy -- the right to focus on what you want to focus upon. While you have no right to keep your mov
    • by Fred_A (10934)

      How can you have any expectation of privacy when using company resources to have your private communications? Just step out of the work place, use your private cell phone, and conduct your private business.

      Not to mention that she was already using company oxygen to fuel her private thoughts, what a petty thief !

      The European outlook on this kind of thing is very different from the US one. People here are actually allowed to be called at the office or to call home (or wherever) every now and then as long a

  • What I don't understand is why this university doesn't have a policy to cover this sort of monitoring. Most places that I have worked have had a policy that specifically states that the employee's use of corporate communication assets can and will be monitored, and the employee has to sign stating he read this policy. Basically, it's the company's way of covering their arses. Granted, the actions supposedly took place in 1999 and I am too young to comment on the state of corporate communication policies in 1999, but I would think it would have been naieve for any business entity not to have covered themselves legally with some sort of "you might be watched" policy.

    That said, if the university didn't have such a policy, then I don't see a problem with the woman suing. Especially in light of the fact that the person monitoring her actions went so far as to call back numbers she had previously called to see who she was calling.

    Anyway, lawsuits like these are why companies today have aceptable use policies.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Husgaard (858362)
      Please note that the ruling here is based on human rights. For some reason (left as an exercise to the reader), you cannot sign away your human rights.

      So a "you might be watched" policy would not help here, even if signed by the employee. The European Court of Human Rights would simply throw out suct a contract as illegal.

      But it might be possible to have a policy saying that the employee must not have private communications or do anything private on the employer's computers and network. This way the emp

      • by Kijori (897770)
        While you can't sign away your human rights, that isn't the issue here - the article only covers communications with a reasonable expectation of privacy, so signing a declaration of consent to monitoring would render the article impotent.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by RESPAWN (153636)
        While I understand that you can't sign away your human rights, I took the article to mean, that the complaint was that she was unaware that she was being monitored. I think the court may have ruled differently had she been appraised of the fact that her communications were being monitored. It would be nice to think that one could do whatever they wish from their computer at work without fear of reprisal, but I have a hard time seeing that ever happening. (Nor should it, the computer is owned by the compa
    • Anyway, lawsuits like these are why companies today have aceptable use policies.

      Which are worth very little if the employee is found not to have agreed to them willingly (e.g., because they were part of an employment contract and the employer and employee did not have equal bargaining power in its negotiation) and even less if they are found to contravene the employee's inalienable human rights (as was the case here).

      Remember, boys and girls: just because you say something in a contract, that doesn't

      • by RESPAWN (153636)
        My cynical nature chooses to believe that US courts would not decide in this way. A prospective employee always has the option not to take a job, should he not agree with an AUP. In a sense, that option could be construed by the courts as the employee's bargaining power. If the corporation wanted the employee bad enough, they could always attempt to waive the AUP. I have yet to see a prospective employee challange one, though. I would really like to see it happen, but I think it would be a losing battl
        • You might be right. I don't know enough about US employment law to even take a guess. But remember that the general framework for employment in the US is very different to the EU (at least for most US states vs. most EU nations). For example, in the US employment is mostly "at will", whereas in the EU, notice is normally required from both employee and employer if they want to terminate the employment contract. That alone makes employment a bigger commitment by both parties than it would be in an "at will"

          • by RESPAWN (153636)

            For example, in the US employment is mostly "at will", whereas in the EU, notice is normally required from both employee and employer if they want to terminate the employment contract.

            That's not necessarily a bad thing for the employee. That would at least provide some measure of job security for the employee. In the US, I think it's generally just considered courtesy to give notice. At a prior job, I received approximately 2 months notification that my job was being outsourced. While still scary, it was nice to know that I had at least some time to begin hunting for jobs. That said, I've had friends walk in to work one day, be sat down, and summarily be "let go" with no clue that

            • I'm not aware of anything EU-wide regarding severance packages, though I'm not an expert on this subject so that doesn't mean there isn't anything. However, individual countries often have their own laws in this area.

              In the UK, for example, employers have to be careful that they have legitimate legal grounds to fire someone, such as genuine redundancy. An employer can't just let someone go because they don't like them; if they do, they can be called before a tribunal. In any case, there is a certain amoun

              • Sorry, hit the wrong button while previewing and posted before I was done. I meant to conclude by saying that because of the reputation issue, in practice many employers have redundancy policies that are far more generous to staff than the legally required minimum. Something like a week's salary for every year of service, with a minimum of four weeks, is pretty typical in the software development world. This is usually in addition to any statutory or contractual notice period, during which the employee must

      • by cdrguru (88047)
        Remember, you are being screwed by having a job - you are being paid to work at someone else's direction and for their benefit. Obviously, this is interfereing with your freedom and should not be tolerated.

        I certainly would not want anyone working for me that felt oppressed and screwed. They can leave anytime they want. And just feeling oppressed and/or screwed "by the man" is grounds for termination.

        You are either going to be a slave (employee) or you are going to be a free man. Choose.
  • by Husgaard (858362) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @02:05PM (#18680053)
    Just to set things straight: The European Convention on Human Rights [wikipedia.org] is not an EU [wikipedia.org] convention as the summary says. The European Convention on Human Rights is a lot older than the EU, and a lot of non-EU countries are bound by it.

    And in case you wonder why we have a special european human rights convention when we already have the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights [wikipedia.org]: This is similar, but goes a bit further in the areas where it was impossible to gain international concensus in the UN in 1948. For example, see article 8 in the european human rights

    Article 8 - Right to respect for private and family life1
    1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.
    2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
    and compare this to the corresponding article in the UN human rights:

    Article 12. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by arivanov (12034)
      You missed to state one more point.

      The current UK government loves to wave articles of the convention at random so you cannot rely on this convention as being useable. Oh we do not like this one, that one and that one. We shall not be bound by them regardless of the fact that we have ratified it. Human rights Antonio Bliar style at your service.

      Not that the Tories are any better as there was a point where they had leaving the convention as a part of their pre-election propaganda (not that this helped them w
    • Not sure whether to laugh or cry. Article 8 section 2 names just about every excuse a "public authority" can have to arbitrary remove and infringe upon basic human rights.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)
      I compared the two and came to the conclusion that they say the same thing. The first one says that there shall be no interference except as necessary. The second says that there shall be no arbitrary interference, which I take to mean either "uncontrolled or unrestricted by law" "decided by a judge or arbiter rather than by a law or statute" in this instance. So if you pass a law that says that you can do it... then both permit the same level of bullshit.
  • Rubbish Management (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ash Vince (602485) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @02:52PM (#18680783) Journal
    I have read quite far down the discussion and very few people seem to consider the fact that the manager might be incompetant and stupid.

    Normally in business incompetent people reach a point where they fuck up and get fired. Or they fuck up and get demoted, however this was a council.

    That means that the manager was probably fairly useless anyway (or she would have got a proper job, not working for a council). On top of this the manager did not run what she was doing past the legal team or the organisations HR officer. If she had we would not be discussing this as it never would have ended in a stupid legal fight which has probably cost the british tax payer (me) more than the pair of them's wages for ten years combined.

    The reality is that most councils seem to have a high turnover of high quality staff as the good people leave when they have done enough time for it to look good on their CV. The crap people can't get sacked as nobody ever gets sacked so they just end up in positions of management by default as nobody else wants to stay that long. The manager in question was probably victimising this member of her staff for two reasons:

    1) She was too stupid to find something she could sack the employee for.

    2) The employee was actually good at her job and was making the manager look bad in comparison.
  • Forbit your employees the use of the network for private mail. This should not be too hard to enforce. By all means, you can't use the posting service for private use as well.

    Then as a nice gesture, you can put some boxen on a seperate subnet for people to use during their lunchtime.

    The next thing you can do is make a whitelist. Block all and everything and only allow those sites for those departments/people who actualy need it. Some people might need access to certain sites. Some even to all sites, but the
    • by vidarh (309115)
      In my case, and this is the case for everyone working for me too, I'm salaried. My work does not pay by the hour. The legal distinction between those two in most places is that a salaried worker need to have reasonable control of their own working schedule, as they bear the responsibility themselves for ensuring their tasks get carried out in a timely manner. That is why salaried workers are generally not entitled to overtime.

      If I want a break, I take a break, and I make up for it when I feel more product

      • by houghi (78078)
        I have not indended to take away your choice of working hours. If you want to take a 10 minute break each 5 minutes, then please do so. But don't use your working PC for that purpose. Use the PC that is placed somewhere for that purpose.
        If you do not use a PC from the company, then most likely you have a portable. Unplug the PC in the 'free surf zone' and plug yours in.

        This is not so much about policing your work. This is about standard network security. People can slack work by reading a newspaper as well.
  • by Toe, The (545098) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @03:11PM (#18681077)

    As an IT director, I am responsible for ensuring connectivity and bandwidth for my company. As part of this job function, from time to time, I turn on "monitoring" on my firewall. This doesn't tell me who is doing what... it just tells me what sites are being hit.

    This is a great way to do statistical monitoring without intruding on one particular person's privacy. If I notice that more than a little of our traffic is going to MySpace or the porn flavor of the day, I re-send out a reminder of the AUP to all staff. (I also remind people that, with VNC, I can observe their screen directly (not that I would, except for tech support-related issues, but I want them to know that anyone in IT could)). After that, the non-work traffic dwindles to next to nil.

    Isn't that a better way of doing it all around?

    P.S. FWIW, my firewall is a ZyXel, and that behavior is the default functionality. I would have to install separate software to log what each individual is doing, and... why would I want to? The real issue (at least from an IT perspective) isn't who is abusing company resources... only that the abuse stop.

    --
    Government of, by, and for ALL the people. [metagovernment.org]

    • by MrSteveSD (801820)

      After that, the non-work traffic dwindles to next to nil.

      No, that's when they grumble under their breath and just plug in their Wifi USB sticks and use a nearby network :) It's not difficult to cut the company out of the loop when you have Wifi access.

      There are so many annoying restrictions at work, that a few people I know just take their own laptops. They then just plug in the monitor and keyboard to the laptop so that everything looks normal. I don't really like the idea of people being able to remotely look at my screen. You may as well just put video

      • by Toe, The (545098)
        Third-party networking cards and outside laptops are both locked out on my network. It's really easy to do. :)

        But on the plus side, I'm hardly draconian about non-work surfing. As long as I have bandwidth to spare, I'd rather my staff be happy than oppressed.
      • by scottv67 (731709) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @04:19PM (#18682099)
        There are so many annoying restrictions at work, that a few people I know just take their own laptops.

        And if you bring your own laptop, how do you access resources on the corporate network? Please tell me that you're not connecting your network cable to your laptop while your wifi connection is enabled.

        Every time that Internet usage monitoring comes up on Slashdot, all the k00l kidz post their solutions for getting around tools like Websense and restrictive firewall policies on outbound traffic. As fun as "pulling one over on The Man" can be, violating the AUP is grounds for termination. Complain all you want about being fired but at the end of the day, you'll still be unemployed.

        To head-off the "Oh yeah, I'm tool l33t to work at a square company with draconian fw admins like that dude!" comments, please know that we can't afford to have people like you on the payroll. Your methods of skirting URL filtering and/or firewall policies will get the organization sued, get us into the newspaper or both. We can't afford to have that happen.

        I've been there and seen it happen. Once your organization is in the newspaper for something unsavory, that kind of damage to the credibility of the organization is hard to repair. The old saying goes "There's no such thing as bad publicity." Well, there *is* bad publicity and it can be quite costly.
      • by Toe, The (545098)

        I don't really like the idea of people being able to remotely look at my screen. You may as well just put video cameras behind everyone and remind people that "we can switch to your camera at any time". Just because technology makes snooping easier, it doesn't mean we should take advantage of it.

        VNC saves my butt all day long. Instead of schlepping to every computer every time there is a problem, I simply say, "OK, I'm going to look in on your screen now," double-click their name (Apple Remote Desktop i

    • by vidarh (309115)
      A company I did consulting with years ago posted a "top ten" list of sites they considered unsuitable for work ordered by amount of traffic.... It very quickly killed off the porn surfing without even reminding people about any possible consequences, even though the list was completely anonymous and none of the people with access to the firewall data ever tried tracking someone down (to my knowledge anyway).
  • WTF, internet useage at work isnt a 'human right'.. geesh..
    • by madcow_bg (969477)
      ... but privacy is.
      • by nurb432 (527695)
        Not in the workplace its not.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by 91degrees (207121)
          Unless we stop being human once we get to the workplace, it is. At least within reason. The exact level of privacy we can expect is a matter of opinion.
        • by vidarh (309115)
          So I assume it is ok for your manager to insist on cavity searches, and on following you into toilet stalls to monitor what you are doing then?

          We all expect some level of privacy even in the workplace, and the question isn't IF privacy is guaranteed in the workplace, but how much. Generally most countries allow quite a lot of monitoring, but very few allow singling out specific employees for harsher treatment or not informing employees of what types of monitoring may be used.

          • by nurb432 (527695)
            You arent forced to work there. You agree to the treatment.

            Some companies do cavity searches.
  • Whoops (Score:3, Funny)

    by Toe, The (545098) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @03:20PM (#18681211)

    I just got fired for reading this article.


    :P

  • OK.. looks like the privacy issue has been beaten to death. Using company owned equipment for personal business and all that.

    As a manager who has to deal with HR/legal considerations, it strikes me that there would be more of a case with a "company policy" only being applied to one person. Every manager has to face a habitual line stepper on their team at least once in their career. The first thing out of HR mouths is always to question whether policy/process is applied uniformly or is singling someone out
  • Now companies will want a COMPLETE BAN for fear of being sued.
  • ...when everyone will be permanently connected to cheap internet with affordable subnotebooks.
  • I understand that in this case it was a University... but the decision applies to all employers, public or private. What the courts have created is a situation where a company can't possibly avoid being the bad guy.

    The courts have ruled that companies are responsible for the actions that their employees take with company resources... That if an employee uses the company email to send out harrassing messages, for example, even if the company did not authorize it and even if the company punished the behavior,

With all the fancy scientists in the world, why can't they just once build a nuclear balm?

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