Bridging the Gap between Employee Surveillance and Privacy Protection

Bridging the Gap between Employee Surveillance and Privacy Protection

Lilian Mitrou (University of the Aegean, Greece)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-036-3.ch016
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This chapter addresses the issue of electronic workplace monitoring and its implications for employees’ privacy. Organisations increasingly use a variety of electronic surveillance methods to mitigate threats to their information systems. Monitoring technology spans different aspects of organisational life, including communications, desktop and physical monitoring, collecting employees’ personal data, and locating employees through active badges. The application of these technologies raises privacy protection concerns. Throughout this chapter, we describe different approaches to privacy protection followed by different jurisdictions. We also highlight privacy issues with regard to new trends and practices, such as teleworking and use of RFID technology for identifying the location of employees. Emphasis is also placed on the reorganisation of work facilitated by information technology, since frontiers between the private and the public sphere are becoming blurred. The aim of this chapter is twofold: we discuss privacy concerns and the implications of implementing employee surveillance technologies and we suggest a framework of fair practices which can be used for bridging the gap between the need to provide adequate protection for information systems, while preserving employees’ rights to privacy.
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Employee monitoring or employee surveillance denotes employer-controlled observation of employees in order to ascertain the performance, behavior, and other characteristics of employees. Traditionally, frontline supervisors had the duty to perform employee surveillance as a means of managing their workforce and protecting the workplace. Surveillance nowadays is, in most cases, automatically performed through the use of technologies such as video and monitoring software. Electronic monitoring entails the following actions:

  • An employer’s use of electronic devices to review and evaluate the performance of employees;

  • An employer’s use of electronic devices to observe actions of employees while employees are not directly performing work tasks, or for a reason other than measuring work performance;

  • An employer’s use of computer forensics, the recovery and reconstruction of electronic data after their deletion, concealment, or attempted destruction (Lasprogata, King, & Pillay, 2004).

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