Big Brother is watching?(veering slightly OT)

Subject: Big Brother is watching?(veering slightly OT)
From: "Richard Smith" <Richard -dot- Smith -at- windriver -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2001 12:05:01 -0700

Sadly, too many people are surprised by this, but it has been decided (by
the courts) that email, etc. generated or transmitted across the company
network are all the property of the company. As I recall this has been
hashed out in the courts extensively, and employee privacy lost big.

As a staunch privacy advocate I will say two things: First consider the
employer's point of view. They are usually concerned about safeguarding
their intellectual property. Not reporting you for goofing off. They know
you goof off sometimes. I've seen estimates that indicate an average
employee spends 15% of the workday doing non-work related activities. They
know this and accept it as a part of doing business. It is a better benefit
to them than hammering you all day and making you an un-happy employee. They
also have network performance issues to deal with, emerging legal issues
like employees using Napster/GnuTella, etc. Believe me, they probably wish
they didn't have to monitor things so vigilantly. Second, you can always use
PGP to encrypt your email.

Anyhow, there are much worse things employers can do to you, for instance:
in circumstances where employers pay for mental health benefits, doctor
patient confidentiality can be breached at the will of the employer. I've
never received such services, but I doubt there's a required _miranda_ type
warning the doctor gives patients. I can see it now <...your employer can
use anything you say against you, now tell me whets bothering you.>

Also, don't expect any privacy or anonymity from Your Yahoo email even when
using it from home. There was a recent case where employers solicited (and
got) user info from Yahoo when the person posted disparaging words about his
company. I believe they subsequently fired the person, and won the
peripheral lawsuits as well, but I'm not totally sure.

Richard Smith

> Subject: Big Brother is watching?
> 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.


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