Email Privacy Issues

Email Privacy Issues

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Email Privacy Issues

     As a result of recent lawsuits against many organizations, companies have developed a policy on proper email practices on company computers. No longer is your personal email regarded as private when accessed on a company’s computer. Companies, in order to decrease lawsuits and increase productivity, have purchased email monitoring software to track email usage during work hours. Therefore, with the onslaught of email monitoring, is a private email really private?
     In NetworkWorld’s The Perils of Privacy, Sharon Gaudin discusses the benefits of a company having a well-defined email policy. She provides the pros and cons of whether a company should invest in an email monitoring system. According to Gaudin, companies are held liable for what their employees do when using company equipment. A joke between to college buddies can be deemed sexual harassment by the company and open up a lawsuit if it ends up in the wrong hands. Because of this, companies have begun monitoring not only emails that employees send, but the websites they visit. Is this ethical? Some would say yes. A company has to protect its name and assets. The business arena is just for that…business. Employees are not paid to do personal business on company time. Leisure activity on the internet slows productivity and costs money. On the other hand, if a “clerk uses her lunch break to scan the Web for information on abuse victims, [and] the information she calls up also flashes onto a screen in her boss's office, and now he knows a secret she never told anyone,” isn’t that a violation of her privacy?
     While this issue seems to be one of ongoing debate, I am one who does not take sides. On one hand I can see the need for corporations to monitor their employees. Information within an email can be deemed unimportant to the mission and goals of the company.

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On the other, I can see where it can be difficult for an employee to solely focus on working with so much information at their fingertips. In conclusion, maybe organizations should not concentrate so much on training employees on the loss of privacy at work, but rather train employers as to what to do with the different types of information they receive.
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