Electronic Monitoring by Employers

Esther Kaplan:

Every aspect of an office worker’s life can now be measured, and an increasing number of corporations and institutions – from cosmetics companies to car-rental agencies – are using that information to make hiring and firing decisions. Cramer, for one, is bullish on the idea: investing in companies like Cornerstone, he said, “can make you boatloads of money literally year after year!”

A survey from the American Management Association found that 66 percent of employers monitor the Internet use of their employees, 45 percent track employee keystrokes, and 43 percent monitor employee email. Only two states, Delaware and Connecticut, require companies to inform their employees that such monitoring is taking place. According to Marc Smith, a sociologist with the Social Media Research Foundation, “Anything you do with a piece of hardware that’s provided to you by the employer, every keystroke, is the property of the employer. Personal calls, private photos – if you put it on the company laptop, your company owns it. They may analyze any electronic record at any time for any purpose. It’s not your data.”

I wrote a research paper about this a few years ago while taking some online classes. Beyond not being required to tell you that monitoring is in place, American employers can outright lie to you and tell you that they are not monitoring when in fact they are.

Thanks to the internet’s @vogon for the heads-up that you can now read one article from Harper’s a month without a subscription and for pointing this one out.