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Then the ethical side of the matter is discussed. Two theories are drawn (Utilitarian and Kantian) to find out is it moral to monitor company's personnel. The third part of the paper is devoted to social responsibility. It is argued that a widespread use of monitoring techniques that intrude into employees' private life indicates the low level of social responsibility among employers, which in fact damages their own business. The section also brings recommendations on how to improve privacy preservation within the company and explains what benefits a company will receive.
As the communication technologies continue to develop, the topic of workplace privacy becomes increasingly important. A hundred years ago manager was able to monitor his subordinates only through visual observation and mail check, if a business was related to frequent use of post services. Later, with the spread of telegraphic communication the tension of employers rose up, although it was still very hard for employees to misuse business channels for private purposes. Thus, there was little need in monitoring the use of business communication by personnel. Everything has changed with the development of phone, and later, e-mail. With the ease of access to better methods of communication, employers often use the chance to monitor their employees' activity, justifying their actions as concern for productivity. From the employees' side the monitoring of their phone calls and e-mail messages on the workplace is often perceived as the intrusion into privacy. Consequently, complaints of employees drive them to court bringing suits against their employees. So far most of such cases were resolved in favor of employers, as can be seen from examples illustrated later in the paper. The legal side of the matter of workplace privacy is observed in the next section.

Law is on the Employer's Side

Most of the developed Western countries have a twofold legislation on the monitoring of employees' workplace activity by employers. For example, in the US interception of wire and electronic communications is prohibited (Electronic Communication Privacy Act, 18, USC 2511, 1986). However the same law has some exceptions, allowing employers to monitor business phones and emails of their employees in most of the cases:

It shall not be unlawful under this chapter for a person acting under color of law to intercept a wire, oral, or electronic communication, where such person is a party to the communication or one of the parties to the communication has given prior consent to such interception. (Electronic Communication Privacy Act, 18, USC 2511, 1986)

Prior consent may be given each time an employee uses communication devices, or implied. Nevertheless, "the fact that an employee merely knows that the employer has the capability to monitor telephone conversations is not sufficient to establish implied consent" (Nuterangelo, 2004). An employee must be aware of monitoring. Therefore, every employee that uses communication services belonging to employer is in the same 'party' with his employer, allowing him to intercept every message or call. Moreover, each employee that was informed in some way (e.g. contract agreement) of using work phones or computers for ...Show more


In the modern world with highly developed communication technologies, issues of privacy are discussed as never before. Among other issues, the problem of workplace privacy plays a crucial role. After all, most of us spend a large part of the day on the workplace and do not like when our phone calls are listened, our e-mails are read, and ourselves watched by employers, or supervisors.
Author : mcdermottmittie
Communication Technologies
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