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Monday, June 05, 2006

Someone (else) Is Reading Your Email

While we already know that we are being watched by Big Brother another area of our work life is coming under surveillance by our employers, e-mail. If you work at a large company, a new study shows that there is a 1 in 3 chance that your e-mails are being read. This study surveyed big companies in the US and Britain about how they monitor their employees actions.

More than a third of the companies surveyed hire employees to read and analyze outbound e-mail as they seek to guard against legal, financial or regulatory risk. Many of the companies (over a third) also said their business was hurt by the exposure of sensitive or embarrassing information in the past 12 months.

Garet Steele, chief executive of Proofpoint, which conducted the study along with Forrester Research said that "What folks are concerned about is confidential or sensitive information that is going out."

The biggest concern for these companies is protecting the financial privacy and identity of customers. The businesses ranked monitoring for inappropriate content and attachments as less important. So you don't have to worry as much unless you divulging confidential information.

Steele also mentioned that more and more companies are employing staff to read outgoing e-mails of workers who typically have no idea their correspondence is being monitored. This is a big privacy issue and the law currently is on the side of big businesses. Anything you say or do on a business computer can be tracked and monitored legally without your consent.

Another finding of the study showed that in the U.S., nearly one in three companies have fired an employee for violating e-mail policies in the past 12 months and estimated that about 20 percent of outgoing e-mails contain content that pose a legal, financial, or regulatory risk.

What are the practices of the company you work for?
Do you think such monitoring is right and should be legal?
Where do we draw the line for the privacy of the worker?

The original article was posted by Wired News.


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