Email monitoring in the workplace
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Thread: Email monitoring in the workplace

  1. #1
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    Email monitoring in the workplace

    OK, well I got this boring assignment about ethics in IT - you know the stuff - all very exciting...not. Anyways, it kinda got me thinking. Our topic is about whether or not it is right to monitor employee emails to see whether they are using it for work-purposes or if they are using it for personal reasons.

    You may think that this is very similar to that CARNIVORE thread that was floating around, and still is, but it isn't. I was totally for that carnivore program, but this is completely different. It may be 'monitoring email', but think about it - one is to see if you are basically a terrorist and the other is simply to see whether you are doing your job.

    Now that this is all clear, I will point out my opinion. I believe that it is simply wrong! Monitoring employee's emails will not benefit anyone in the long run. Firstly, they are trying to see if workers are 'wasting time' using email for non-work related purposes. Isn't monitoring of these emails 'wasting time' too?? Who is going to monitor the emails? The boss? Surely he has enough on his plate.

    Secondly, it makes workplace environment feel threatening to the employee. If you know that the company you are working for is monitoring your email, everytime you send one you will be thinking about this and wondering 'should I send this'? It creates a burdon on the employee and reduces job satisfaction, thus, affecting proctuctivity in a negative way.

    Also, say you want to simply send a message that says,

    'Pete, I asked Jenny and she said she'll be right for Saturday - it's on, the Dolphin's will slaughter the King's - you got no hope of winning!! See ya then'.

    Surely this message will have taken less then 2 minutes to write. What is wrong with that? The employee will be thinking, 'can I send this?' and will have all these worries which really do not need to be there. If they send it, they will be satisfied and get on with their job feeling better, as they have communicated with their friend and not worrying about 'how am I going to tell him?'

    If I were a manager/boss at a company, I would simply expect my employees to do their job. If the job gets done, what does it matter if they sent 10 personal emails during the day. What if John got the job done and sent 10 personal emails. Sally isn't performing well, but she doesn't send email. What will the purpose of email scanning echieve in this situation?? The more personal emails you send, the better the job you do will be??

    Again, I believe email monitoring in the workplace is totally useless and should not be the measure of 'how well an employee works'. It is a great distraction to the employee and a waste of time for the boss.

    Please post your opinions up, I would like to know how you all feel about this topic. If you get negative antipoints for simply stating what you believe, forget about it - I know how you feel, I get em sometimes too. The people who dish them out have to seriously take a look at themselves cos they have very little brain matter.

    Greg
    \"Do you know what people are most afraid of?
    What they don\'t understand.
    When we don\'t understand, we turn to our assumptions.\"
    -- William Forrester
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  2. #2
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    eh

    Company point of view. Your on their network, your working on their time, yes it's a breach of privacy but your not in your home. Industrial espionage is something that could cost a company tons of money. Now monitering emails from a persons home is wack and I think that is wrong. Such "variable seaking" programs like echilon and carnivore are worthless and just seek to soak up tax payer dollars on a senseless witch hunt.
    Alternate realities celebrate reality. If you cant handle the reality your in, then you wont be able to handle the one your attempting to escape to.
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  3. #3
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    one reason for restictions of personal use of email at work...

    w ww.myparty.yahoo.com

    my point being users often don't think about the risks of email...no matter how many times i beat them...and personal email is inherently more risky than business mail...a lot more of look at "my pics and such garbage...far more open to social engineering...for the most part ...i couldn't care less what my users are writing...but if it puts my network at risk...then that's a whole other matter...
    I used to be With IT. But then they changed what IT was. Now what I'm with isn't IT, and what's IT seems scary and weird." - Abe Simpson
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  4. #4
    Priapistic Monk KorpDeath's Avatar
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    More often than not companies don't bother because of the simple fact that they send allot of email and it would take an entire staff of people to sit down and sift through. Not to mention that it would not stop the secrets/info from leaving, you'd just find out who sent them out.

    Every company knows that it's employees use some of the systems for personal use. There is no way for you stop it in every fashion.

    How about another poll?
    Mankind have a great aversion to intellectual labor; but even supposing knowledge to be easily attainable, more people would be content to be ignorant than would take even a little trouble to acquire it.
    - Samuel Johnson
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  5. #5
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    An IT manager/Systems admin's perspective,

    I happen to be the sole support for two companies, one with around 30 clients, and the other over 70. I sleep two hours a night if I'm lucky. And yes, I have monitoring set up over both Email and internet transactions. Both companies policies firmly state this, and most employees are fine with this fact.

    I dont beleive in being a "Nazi" in the effect that if billy sends an e-mail to sara about going out for a beer after work we're going to write them up. I am harsh about junk email (which usually ends up blackholed before even reaching the recipient) nasty little attachments like .pif... and the use of email to send someone large non related files such as mp3's.

    I dont have time to run around and deal with everybody's problems because billy bob wasnt smart enough to delete that email about the pictures from my party. I definately dont have the time to cruise through someones mailbox looking for "interesting" things either. It's not a violation of privacy thing, most of the interaction is with a filter and not me, people are usually fine with this. Once in a while we get someone who, for some reason cant stand the thought that the company has acess to everything on it's network... usually theyre the ones surfing porn while customers wait patiently for service. It's not a control thing, it's a security thing. I like to know whats connecting to port 8000, and I like to use company bandwidth for the company, not bob's Mp3 downloads. Broadband, Cable, DSL are all quite available here and the majority of my users have normal schedules which allows them plenty of time to do what they want at home. (although I do turn off the restrictions after hours for people, monitoring stays tho..)

    Just my perspective
    ~THEJRC~
    ~THEJRC~
    I\'ll preach my pessimism right out loud to anyone that listens!
    I\'m not afraid to be alive.... I\'m afraid to be alone.
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  6. #6
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    Hmmm...thanks for all your feedback with your opinions. Really got me thinking... I'm slightly seeing the benefits of monitoring email, although I still believe employees should be able to send personal emails and not have to worry about whether they will get into trouble. Yes, if they tend to keep sending large MP3's or viewing porn, this should be dealt with, but if they send 20 emails to their partner or friends and are still doing a good job for the company - the manager should not punish this at all, as they are still doing their job and aren't putting much strain on the company's network at all.

    Greg
    \"Do you know what people are most afraid of?
    What they don\'t understand.
    When we don\'t understand, we turn to our assumptions.\"
    -- William Forrester
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  7. #7
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    I think the point is that without monitoring you can't know what your employees are doing...they could be sending the "let's meet after work kind of email.." which i don;t think that any admin is going to really care about...as thejrc mentioned...we don't have time for that...

    but.... they could be sending mp3s...which are likely illegal...(whatever your opinions on napsterizing..they are currently illegal under the law...in most places)...porn..which may or may not be illegal...these kinds of things could in fact put your company...and you as I.T. in a position of possible prosecution...and of course this thing scales exponentially as the size of your user base grows...small companies probably don't really see this as an issue...larger ones...it becomes one...whether you like it or not..
    I used to be With IT. But then they changed what IT was. Now what I'm with isn't IT, and what's IT seems scary and weird." - Abe Simpson
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  8. #8
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    Well privacy is important but then again what if you got evil employees?
    At Apple computer Jobs told his employees that they spend millions to promote new products, an employee told a friend who happened to be a journalist. It didn't get published but Job's Next machine intercepted it (he could read all the e-mail) and allmost fired her.
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  9. #9
    Look at it like this........

    You got a neighbors house.. are you going to get naked in front of them so they can see you only have one testicle and laugh at you?

    Point: Keep your private **** at home. It's thier house, they can throw you out for doing **** they don't want you to do.

    EOF
    Jason Parker - http://www.o-negative.net
    o-Negative: Information Network
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  10. #10
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    Thumbs up

    zigar and THEJRC said it all. Yeah it's a bummer to get your email filtered, but then, you are at work.
    Trappedagainbyperfectlogic.
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