Re: Big Brother is watching?

Subject: Re: Big Brother is watching?
From: "Andrew Plato" <aplato -at- easytstreet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2001 13:21:59 -0700

"Rowena Hart" wrote.

> 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).

Technically, if its their Internet connection they can watch EVERYTHING you
send out over it. Same with phone lines. Realistically, companies that spend
this much energy on monitoring employees are either:

1. Horrible places to work because the management are all paranoid freaks
who think control is the only way to make people behave.

2. Great places to work because they have cutting edge technologies that
require a lot of security to protect them from industrial spys.

Since most companies out there do not have cutting edge technology, I would
say such overt survailence is merely a sign of a horrible place to work.

> 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?

This actually happened to me in college as well. I actually got fired for
this. Get this:

I wrote a letter to a friend at home. I asked my manager if I could use the
office laser printer to print off some school papers and such. She said "no
problem". So I printed a letters to a friend and a paper for an English

A few weeks later I went on vacation for 2 weeks. We were having problems
with a server and I told the marketing people to never just "turn off" the
server. Those old IBM hard drives had a tendancy to fry if you didn't park
them properly. But the marketing people were total dolts and never listened
to a thing. Sure enough, they turned it off and fried the hard drive. They
called in a hard drive restoration company to get the data off it.

In the process they found a temporary file that Wordperfect 5.1 had created.
It had the entire contents of my letter to my friend where I called the
division manager (who was a completely tyrant) a dirty name.

In retrospect, I wasn't fired because of the letter. It was an excuse. I had
built a very sophisticated wide area network to gather data from numerous
remote systems. The thing was very cool for 1980's era networking and
database technology. Their sanctioned computer expert said would take 2
years and millions of dollars to implement this system...I did in 2 months
for about $2000. This cheesed off the expert in a serious it was
either his way or the highway. I got the highway and they tore my system


> 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
> =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
> 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"
> =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=


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