Many Companies Monitoring, Recording, Videotaping – and Firing – Employees (News Release)
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NEW YORK, 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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“Workers’ e-mail, IM, blog and Internet content creates written business records that are the electronic equivalent of DNA evidence,â€? said Flynn, noting that one in five employers has had e-mail subpoenaed by courts and regulators and another 13% have battled workplace lawsuits triggered by employee e-mail, according to last year’s Workplace E-Mail & IM Survey from AMA and ePolicy Institute. “To help control the risk of litigation, security breaches and other electronic disasters, employers should take advantage of technology tools to battle people problems—including the accidental and intentional misuse of computer systems, telephones and other electronic resources,â€? Flynn said.

Telephone, Cell Phones, Camera Phones & Voice Mail:
Concerned about inappropriate telephone use, 57% of employers block access to 900 lines and other unauthorized phone numbers. The number of employers who monitor the amount of time employees spend on the phone and track the numbers called has jumped to 51%, up from 9% in 2001. The percentage of companies that tape phone conversations has also grown in the past four years. In 2001, 9% of companies recorded workers’ phone calls. Today, 19% tape the calls of employees in selected job categories, and another 3% record and review all employees’ phone chat.

Far fewer employers monitor employees’ voice mail messages, with 15% reporting that they tape or review voice mail.

 

To help manage employees’ telephone use, employers apply a combination of policy and discipline. Twenty-seven percent have a written policy governing personal cell phone use at the office, and another 19% use policy to help control the capture and transmission of images via camera phones. Six percent of companies have fired employees for misusing office phones, and another 22% have issued formal reprimands to those who abuse phone privileges.

Video Surveillance:
More than half of the companies surveyed use video monitoring to counter theft, violence and sabotage (51% in 2005 vs. 33% in 2001). The number of companies that use video surveillance to track employees’ on-the-job performance has also increased, with 10% now videotaping selected job categories and 6% videotaping all employees. Among companies that videotape workers, 85% notify employees of the practice.

Global Satellite Positioning & Emerging Surveillance Technology:
Employers have been slow to adopt emerging monitoring and surveillance technologies to help track employee productivity and movement. Employers who use Assisted Global Positioning or Global Positioning Systems satellite technology are in the minority, with only 5% using GPS to monitor cell phones; 8% using GPS to track company vehicles; and 8% using GSP to monitor employee ID/Smartcards.

The majority (53%) of companies employ Smartcard technology to control physical security and access to buildings and data centers. Trailing far behind is the use of technology that enables fingerprint scans (5%), facial recognition (2%) and iris scans (0.5%).

The 2005 Electronic Monitoring & Surveillance Survey is co-sponsored by American Management Association (www.amanet.org) and The ePolicy Institute (www.epolicyinstitute.com). A total of 526 U.S. companies participated: 23% represent companies employing 100 or fewer workers, 101–500 employees (25%), 501–1,000 (10%), 1,001–2,500 (13%), 2,501–5,000 (7%) and 5,001 or more (22%). In 2004, 840 U.S. businesses participated in the 2004 Workplace E-Mail & IM Survey from American Management Association and The ePolicy Institute. In 2001, 435 U.S. companies participated in the 2001 Electronic Policies & Procedures Survey from American Management Association and The ePolicy Institute.

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The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free?
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2 thoughts on “Many Companies Monitoring, Recording, Videotaping – and Firing – Employees (News Release)
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  1. And that’s the problem. Paying people to adequately monitor dozens, or even hundreds, of surveillance cameras can be highly expensive. Plus, humans tend to get bored and lose focus staring at security TV monitors hour after hour, day after day. Computerized monitoring would seem to be the obvious answer, but creating software programs that can recognize suspicious activities or suspect individuals has proven highly difficult.
    However, Serkan Uyanikdeniz, owner of a cctv systems manufactring company developing a real-time computer monitoring system that provides some answers to this problem. Mr.Uyanikdeniz artificial intelligence system can reliably monitor surveillance images to detect certain suspicious movements or suspect individuals and alert human security personnel.

  2. Think about this…

    Is your company paying you?…Yes

    What are they paying you for?…You answer this.

    Should you be allowed to squander the company’s money to surf the web, IM all of your friends, view porn, email everybody you know?… No.

    Should your employer allow you to do the above?…No, they are paying you for a specific task.

    Will most companies allow you to send personal email, IM friends occasionally, look at a website of interest for a moment?…
    Probably. Most companies are not running sweat shops and allow their personnel some personal time during the day. Why abuse it?

    Stop complaining folks. You have a job. Why bite the hand that feeds you?

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