Study finds companies snooping on employee e-mail

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    Study finds companies snooping on employee e-mail


    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Big Brother is not only watching but he is also reading your e-mail.

    According to a new study, about a third of big companies in the United States and Britain hire employees to read and analyze outbound e-mail as they seek to guard against legal, financial or regulatory risk.

    More than a third of U.S. companies surveyed also said their business was hurt by the exposure of sensitive or embarrassing information in the past 12 months, according to the annual study from a company specializing in protecting corporate e-mail at large businesses.

    "What folks are concerned about is confidential or sensitive information that is going out," said Gary Steele, chief executive of Cupertino, California-based Proofpoint Inc., which conducted the study along with Forrester Research.

    The top concern was protecting the financial privacy and identity of customers followed by compliance issues and a bid to prevent confidential leaks. Businesses ranked monitoring for inappropriate content and attachments as less important.

    Steele also said on Friday that more and more companies are employing staff to read outgoing e-mails of workers who typically have no idea their correspondence is being monitored.

    "It is not something that is broadcast," Steele said. "There are organizations where employees think they can say whatever they want to say and nobody is going to read it."

    The survey gathered responses concerning e-mail security from 406 companies in the United States and the United Kingdom with more than 1,000 employees.

    In both regions, 38 percent of respondents said they employed staff to read or otherwise analyze outbound e-mail. In the United States, 44 percent of companies with more than 20,000 employees said they hire workers to snoop on workers' e-mail.

    Nearly one in three U.S. companies also said they had fired an employee for violating e-mail policies in the past 12 months and estimated that about 20 percent of outgoing e-mails contain content that poses a legal, financial or regulatory risk.

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    Yep. This is right in my line of business. I have a standard speech that I give to people which I'll shorten here:

    "Your employer's computer system belongs to your employer. Everything you do on that computer belongs to the employer. Even if they're not actively watching you, they probably keep server logs and backup files of email which can be reviewed if they want to. Don't do anything on your work computer that you wouldn't be able to explain to your mother, your spouse, your boss, or the news media."

    If an employer takes a dislike to an employee, they do two things first. They pull out the resume/job application and see if they can find any false information there. Then they look through the employee's internet activity to find anything incriminating.
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    yep. at work we sometimes have to watch users activity due to getting viruses and whatnot..and while browsing through, you find some interesting things... sad that people do alot of home things at work, i'm as guilty as the next person, but its become all too common these days.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tattoopierced1
    yep. at work we sometimes have to watch users activity due to getting viruses and whatnot..and while browsing through, you find some interesting things... sad that people do alot of home things at work, i'm as guilty as the next person, but its become all too common these days.
    I'm always surprised at how many people look at porn from work. I mean, you're sitting in a cubicle, WTF are you thinking/doing?
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    haha, we've had a few people fired for viewing porn at work. One guy even after he had be warned the day before.

    I forget the term, but Michigan is one of the states where the employer does not need a reason to fire you. If they want, they can just let you go at any moment, regardless of performance.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Viperspit
    haha, we've had a few people fired for viewing porn at work. One guy even after he had be warned the day before.

    I forget the term, but Michigan is one of the states where the employer does not need a reason to fire you. If they want, they can just let you go at any moment, regardless of performance.
    "at-will" employment
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    Quote Originally Posted by yeahright
    "at-will" employment

    yep, that's the term. thanks.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Viperspit
    yep, that's the term. thanks.
    Not a problem, this area is what I do for a living. As an aside, if someone lives in an at-will state, join a labor union. The collective bargaining agreement will change one's status to "just cause" employment where the employer has to prove that there was "just cause" to terminate you.

    BTW, viewing porn at work can be just cause.....but when called upon to defend an employee, the first thing I do is request the server logs of their managers (they can't fire my guy for doing something management has been doing unless they fire the managers too).
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    Quote Originally Posted by yeahright
    Not a problem, this area is what I do for a living. As an aside, if someone lives in an at-will state, join a labor union. The collective bargaining agreement will change one's status to "just cause" employment where the employer has to prove that there was "just cause" to terminate you.

    BTW, viewing porn at work can be just cause.....but when called upon to defend an employee, the first thing I do is request the server logs of their managers (they can't fire my guy for doing something management has been doing unless they fire the managers too).

    I'm in management, so there are no unions for me (or at least in my field). I just think the "at-will" ruling sucks. I've seen VP's let go for a trumped up bs reason. Basically it gives you the right to do whatever you want. Sorry just venting.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Viperspit
    I'm in management, so there are no unions for me (or at least in my field). I just think the "at-will" ruling sucks. I've seen VP's let go for a trumped up bs reason. Basically it gives you the right to do whatever you want. Sorry just venting.
    LOL, I understand. And as a member of management, there probably aren't many options (some unions do represent management but those are generally in the public sector).

    At-will employment allows the employer to fire someone for any reason which isn't illegal (ex. race discrimination). However, one can be fired for illegal reasons if the employer is smart enough to just say something vague ("it's not working out", "we're reorganizing", etc.).

    At the highest levels of companies (CEOs, etc.) they all have employment contracts which spell out their rights, their compensation etc. Sports stars all have contracts which do the same thing. It's always struck me as odd at how many regular employees are content to be treated at-will when the people running the company would never stand for being treated that way themselves.
  

  
 

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