Email Privacy

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Ethical Management of E-mail Privacy

As I am sitting at my work station in a crowded office building, I hear the wonderful sound of "You've got mail." In turn I open my E-mail mailbox and find a letter from a nearby employee. This letter contains the usual funny joke of the day and a short joke ridiculing the boss, as usual. Who was to know that my supervisor would eventually find this letter, which would lead to both the termination of my job and my fellow employee? Do you feel this is right?

Does this sound common? This may sound common because the issue of E-mail and privacy is very common and controversial in our advanced technological world. The determination of what is ethical or unethical is not simple or straightforward. Employers and employees may have seen the ethical and legal issues associated with E-mail privacy differently. E-mail has become indispensable in the modern=day workplace, more often employers are realizing that E-mail communication systems can increase the efficiency of communications internally. Along with this increase in the use of E-mail come legal issues involving employee privacy and monitoring. The laws addressing an employer's rights to monitor E-mail traffic and employees' rights to E-mail privacy are still evolving (Lyford 28).

After much research, I believe employers should have the right to check employee E-mail, because E-mail is a company resource and a property right. Organizations have an obligation to themselves, their employees, their business partners, customers and society at large to act in an ethically responsible manner regarding their E-mail policies. Companies have many justified reasons for searching employee files such as preventing personal use or abuse of...

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