Somebody’s Watching You: New Data on Electronic Monitoring

The American Management Association (AMA) and The ePolicy Institute have recently released the results of their survey on Electronic Monitoring & Surveillance. The survey is of great interest to employers, who face more and more issues in this area.

Some highlights from the survey:

E-Mail and Internet-Related Terminations:

The 28% of employers who have terminated employees for e-mail misuse did so for the following reasons: violation of any company policy (64%); inappropriate or offensive language (62%); excessive personal use (26%); breach of confidentiality rules (22%); other (12%).

The 30% of bosses who have fired workers for Internet misuse cite the following reasons: viewing, downloading, or uploading inappropriate/offensive content (84%); violation of any company policy (48%); excessive personal use (34%); other (9%).

Internet, E-Mail, Blogs and Social Networking:

Employers are primarily concerned about inappropriate Web surfing, with 66% monitoring Internet connections. Fully
65% of companies use software to block connections to inappropriate websites-a 27% increase since 2001 when AMA/ePolicy Institute first surveyed electronic monitoring and surveillance policies and procedures. Employers who block access to the Web are concerned about employees visiting adult sites with sexual, romantic, or pornographic content (96%); game sites (61%); social networking sites (50%); entertainment sites (40%); shopping/auction sites (27%); and sports sites (21%). In addition, companies use URL blocks to stop employees from visiting external blogs (18%).

Computer monitoring takes many forms, with 45% of employers tracking content, keystrokes, and time spent at the keyboard. Another 43% store and review computer files. In addition, 12% monitor the blogosphere to see what is being written about the company, and another 10% monitor social networking sites.

Of the 43% of companies that monitor e-mail, 73% use technology tools to automatically monitor e-mail and 40% assign an individual to manually read and review e-mail.

Telephone and Voice Mail:

Six percent of employers have fired employees for misuse or private use of office phones. Fully 45% monitor time spent and numbers called, and another 16% record phone conversations. An additional 9% monitor employees’ voicemail messages. Most employers notify employees of phone (84%) and voicemail (73%) monitoring.

Video Surveillance:

Almost half (48%) of the companies surveyed use video monitoring to counter theft, violence and sabotage. Only 7% use video surveillance to track employees’ on-the-job performance. Most employers notify employees of anti-theft video surveillance (78%) and performance-related video monitoring (89%).

Global Satellite Positioning and Emerging Surveillance Technology:

Employers who use Assisted Global Positioning or Global Positioning Systems satellite technology are in the minority, with only 8% using GPS to track company vehicles; 3% using GPS to monitor cell phones; and fewer than 1% using GPS to monitor employee ID/Smartcards. The majority (52%) of companies employ Smartcard technology to control physical security and access to buildings and data centers. Trailing far behind is the use of technology that enables fingerprint scans (2%), facial recognition (0.4%) and iris scans (0.4%).

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