Big Brother Is Legally Watching: an Insight Into Workplace Surveilance

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Big Brother Is Legally Watching: An Insight Into Workplace Surveilance

The paper is a brief insight into electronic surveillance in the workplace. It focuses on what video surveillance is; and what methods are used, such as monitoring phone usage, video surveillance, monitoring email, internet usage, GPS surveillance of company vehicles and cell phones; and why these methods are adopted within the workplace. It also focuses on the legal risk of electronic surveillance with the concerns of invasion of privacy and its effect on the of workplace protocol and guidelines.

Big Brother Is Legally Watching: An insight in to Workplace Surveillance

The development of technology has completely changed the manner in which business is conducted. Employers are increasingly focusing on what employees are doing at the office besides working. Through the use of electronic surveillance, businesses are making greater use of electronic employee monitoring methods to enhance productivity and deter theft. Some surveillance methods that are used consist of monitoring phone usage, video surveillance, monitoring email, internet usage, GPS surveillance of company vehicles and cell phones. Even smart card technology employed to control building access is utilized by more than half of the businesses today. Although electronic surveillance is becoming a very common part of the workplace, many legal risks are associated with its usage for both employees and employers. What electronic surveillance is, how it is use, and the risk that is associated with its use will be addressed within this paper. Electronic surveillance is defined as the process of observing or listening to persons, places, or activities, usually in a secretive or unobtrusive manner, with the aid of electronic devices such as cameras, microphones, tape recorders, or wire taps (Kidwell & Sprague, 2009). Many businesses use electronic surveillance to maintain the security of their buildings and grounds, to obtain information about costumers or to help increase the output of work during business hours. Electronic monitoring can serve several purposes. It can increase the amount of work actually being done during work hours, enhance the security for persons and property, and detect and prevent criminal, wrongful, or impermissible activity. Various methods of electronic observation has been employed by business competitors, convenience stores, shopping centers, apartment buildings, parking facilities, hospitals, banks, and employers. Three types of the most common electronic surveillance are wire tapping, bugging, and videotaping. Electronic monitoring is on the rise with the ability to view emails, monitoring of internet usage, GPS surveillance of company vehicles and cell phones, and the use of controlled access for buildings. Wire tapping captures telephone calls and telegraph messages by physically going into the wire circuitry. Telephone or telegraph wires must actually be tap into in order to accomplish this type of surveillance. Bugging can be accomplished by placing a small microphone or other listening device in a specific location to transmit conversations to a nearby receiver and recorder. Of those firms that admitted to monitoring employees almost half said they monitored employee phone calls, either by recording information about calls made or by actually listening to the calls themselves; others stored and reviewed electronic mail and voice mail messages of employees (Nacherla, 2008). Surveillance cameras or video cameras are used for the purpose of observing an area. Video surveillance is performed by noticeable or hidden cameras that transmit and record visual images that may be watched during the time which the activity is taking place or reviewed later on tape. They are often connected to a recording device, IP network, and/or watched by a security guard or a law enforcement officer. Cameras and recording equipment use to be...
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