Dataveillance: Employee Monitoring & Information Privacy Concerns in the Workplace

Dataveillance: Employee Monitoring & Information Privacy Concerns in the Workplace

Regina Connolly (Dublin City University, Ireland) and Cliona McParland (Dublin City University, Ireland)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/jitr.2012040103


Information privacy concerns are a dominant concern of the information age. Such concerns emanate from the tension between the correct use of personal information and information privacy. That tension has extended to the computer-mediated work environment as employees are becoming increasingly aware of the ways in which management can employ technologies to monitor their email and Internet interactions. Such information privacy concerns have the potential to negatively impact organisational productivity and employee morale. The aim of this paper is to outline some of the major issues relating to workplace surveillance and provide a balanced perspective that identifies the emerging issues and subsequent privacy concerns from the employee’s perspective as well as the rationale underlying managements’ decision to employ monitoring technologies in the workplace. In doing so, it attempts to progress academic understanding of this issue and enhance practitioners’ understanding of the factors that influence employees’ technology-related privacy concerns.
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Information Privacy

Privacy is a complex construct and one that remains beset by conceptual and operational confusion. It is an ambiguous concept in the sense that it is difficult to either define or understand. For example, for every definition of privacy sourced from the literature, a counter example can be easily produced (Introna, 1996). Thus, Solove (2006, p. 477) asserts that privacy as a concept is in disarray and nobody can articulate what it means. This conceptual confusion has been exacerbated by the multiplicity of perspectives that have been applied to examinations of the construct, resulting in a highly fragmented set of concepts, definitions and relationships. For example, privacy is often examined as a psychological state, a form of power, an inherent right or an aspect of freedom (Parker, 1974; Acquisti, 2002; Rust, Kannan, & Peng, 2002). Many overlapping concepts such as confidentiality, anonymity, secrecy and ethics have added to the confusion that surrounds the construct (Margulis, 2003). In an attempt to reduce this confusion, Clarke (1999) identifies four dimensions of privacy: privacy of a person, personal behaviour privacy, personal communication privacy, and personal data privacy. However, as the majority of communications today are digitised and stored, Bélanger and Crossler (2011) contend that personal communication privacy and data privacy can be merged into the construct of information privacy.

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