2005 Electronic Monitoring & Surveillance Survey: Many Companies Monitoring, Recording, Videotaping–and Firing–Employees

NEW YORK–([1])–May 18, 2005–From computer monitoring and telephone taping to video surveillance and GPS satellite tracking, employers are using policy and technology to manage productivity and protect resources. To motivate employee compliance, companies increasingly are putting teeth in technology policies. Fully 26% have fired workers for misusing the Internet. Another 25% have terminated employees for e-mail misuse. And 6% have fired employees for misusing office telephones. That’s according to the 2005 Electronic Monitoring & Surveillance Survey from American Management Association (AMA) and The ePolicy Institute. Internet, E-Mail, IM & Blogging:

When it comes to workplace computer use, employers are primarily concerned about inappropriate Web surfing, with 76% monitoring workers’ Website connections. Fully 65% of companies use software to block connections to inappropriate Websites–a 27% increase since 2001 when AMA and ePolicy Institute last surveyed electronic monitoring and surveillance policies and procedures in the workplace.

Computer monitoring takes various forms, with 36% of employers tracking content, keystrokes and time spent at the keyboard. Another 50% store and review employees’ computer files. Companies also keep an eye on e-mail, with 55% retaining and reviewing messages.

Employers are doing a good job of notifying employees when they are being watched. Of those organizations that engage in monitoring and surveillance activities, fully 80% inform workers that the company is monitoring content, keystrokes and time spent at the keyboard; 82% let employees know the company stores and reviews computer files; 86% alert employees to e-mail monitoring; and 89% notify employees that their Web usage is being tracked.

“Concern over litigation and the role electronic evidence plays in lawsuits and regulatory investigations has spurred more employers to implement electronic technology policies,” said Nancy Flynn, executive director of The ePolicy Institute and author of E-Mail Rules (AMACOM 2003), Instant Messaging Rules (AMACOM 2004) and other books related to workplace computer use. Employers have established policies governing personal e-mail use (84%); personal Internet use (81%); personal instant messenger (IM) use (42%); operation of personal Web sites on company time (34%); personal postings on corporate blogs (23%); and operation of personal blogs on company time (20%).

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