Big Brother is watching?

Subject: Big Brother is watching?
From: "Rowena Hart" <rowena -at- vocalscape -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2001 11:25:40 -0700

I recently changed jobs and was not terribly
surprised to hear that my new employer actively
screens all outgoing e-mail (including e-mail
sent from my "private" Yahoo! account).

I was a little more surprised to hear that my
employer also likes to take a look at what is
active on each employee's desktop on a regular
basis. In the past (?) they had video cameras
operating in the engineering area that were
presumably reviewed for evidence of suspicious
activities and phone calls. These cameras have
either been removed or more expertly hidden.

I understand the drivers behind this kind of
surveillance. However, there are no policies
indicating what actions are considered improper
use of company property. I seriously doubt that
any companies publicly state that they are
performing surveillance, or identify what they
are using their surveillance to detect.

The knowledge that my correspondence is being
reviewed daily is not preventing me from doing
my job. However, it is rather unnerving.
For example, I'm an active member of an STC
chapter executive committee. Are my STC-related
e-mails going to get me fired? Similarly, if
I post an e-mail to TECHWR-L that contains
information about a product in development
(and, presumably, a technical issue that I
need assistance resolving) is that considered
a breach of confidentiality?

At my previous job, our technical writing
department manager used to regularly screen
our e-mails for evidence of job dissatisfaction,
job hunting, or slanders of her managerial
talent. At least one member of the department
was reprimanded by this manager for complaining
about the manager in a supposedly private
Yahoo! e-mail. Was this legitimate or was this
an invasion of privacy?

How widespread is the use of surveillance in
companies? Are companies obligated to inform
employees that their correspondence and
actions are being screened? How common is it
for managers to screen the e-mails (and files)
of the people in their department? At what
point does a manager/company cross the line
and invade an employee's privacy?


Rowena Hart
Senior Technical Writer
Yahoo! Messenger ID rowena_hart

VOCALSCAPE Communications Inc.
Unit 203 - 3991 Henning Drive
Burnaby, BC Canada V5C 6N5
Tel:(604) 437-VOIP (8647)
Fax:(604) 437-8646
"The Future is"


*** Deva(tm) Tools for Dreamweaver and Deva(tm) Search ***
Build Contents, Indexes, and Search for Web Sites and Help Systems
Available 4/30/01 at or info -at- devahelp -dot- com

Sponsored by DigiPub Solutions Corp, producers of PDF 2001 Conference East,
June 4-6, Baltimore, MD. Now covering Acrobat 5. Early registration deadline
April 27.

You are currently subscribed to techwr-l as: archive -at- raycomm -dot- com
To unsubscribe send a blank email to leave-techwr-l-obscured -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Send administrative questions to ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.


Previous by Author: Trademark usage guidelines
Next by Author: RE: HTML Help
Previous by Thread: Re: Certification (was: Response to comments about AnnualConference Program)
Next by Thread: Re: Big Brother is watching?

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads