Essay Title: 

Electronic Monitoring

April 3, 2016 | Author: | Posted in engineering, technology

Electronic Surveillance in the Work Area

Introduction

Today ‘s work area is a cacophony of electronic gadgets : telephones mobile phones , networked computers , online transactions , e-mail , etc . As the workplace becomes increasingly electronic , the way resources are being used in terms of time and information handling takes on increasing importance . Monitoring of employee productivity , work quality and misappropriation of company resources has become a major challenge . The purpose of this research is to determine the different methods of electronic monitoring , their purpose , their effectiveness , and their impact on employees

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present , methods of electronic monitoring have become more varied and powerful . Advances in computer and communications technology have provided more tools at more affordable prices for monitoring and surveillance that even small companies can afford to invest in them Employers have more opportunities to monitor and check that their employees are doing what they are employed to do while in the workplace .Surveillance Camera Systems

The most common , and recognized , type of surveillance is that of the wall-mounted camera . Surveillance camera systems have been around for quite some time but there have been major advancements in terms of picture resolution , recording capabilities , and real-time monitoring Old , analog systems had very limited display capacity . For instance before , cameras had to be pointed at well-lit areas . Today ‘s cameras have light enhancing capabilities as well as infrared . The fixed and pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ ) cameras are most popular for various functions Fixed cameras are used for areas that need steady surveillance , such as entrances and cashier stations . PTZ cameras are for more dynamic areas such as hallways , in which the controller has more control over the size and angle of the video image being recorded . Motion-activated sensors have also contributed greatly to the efficiency of the surveillance equipment (Video Surveillance Systems

The employer may also patch these surveillance feeds almost anywhere due mainly to the prevalence of network digital camera technology . The new systems can connect via Local Area Networks (LAN ) and via Web allowing employers to view the system practically from anywhere and at anytime . These are just some of the new features of video surveillance brought about by advances in technology that has all but replaced closed circuit televisions (Digital Surveillance on the Rise

For the most part video surveillance is used to ensure that the office area is secure and safe during off hours . In other words , most employers use it to make sure that company property is safe and secure from theft destruction , or vandalism . Aside from this it helps in monitoring employee activity in the work area . These systems are situated in sensitive areas where office equipment and s need to be secured such as the stock room , or office employees need to be monitored , such as at the cashiering booth (Flynn , 2003

Since these systems are used inside the work area , it does not violate the employee ‘s right to privacy . It ensures that employees are using the time , paid for the company , to do company business . In some cases , it serves to protect employees from abuses of other co-employees or employers (Johnson , 1995 ) Video records may also be used as the irrefutable basis of the fairness or bias of am employer ‘s evaluation of an employee , a knife that may cut both ways (Morgan ) However , sound acquisition with video images would constitute a violation of the wire tap statutes so any act by employees recording any wrongdoing that is accompanied by sound would be illegal (Johnson , 1995

GPS Systems

These are systems which allow employers to pinpoint the location of persons or objects at any given time . These are usually included in vehicles , or communications devices (cell phones , radio , etc ) provided for by the employers . The GPS device is either built in or to said devices . They are monitored by satellites that pinpoint their locations on the planet . This is relayed by the satellite to a computer system which can be viewed by the employers . Approximately 5 of companies use it to track field personnel through the mobile phone , and 8 to track company vehicles (Jones , 2005

This system is mainly used to secure and monitor a company ‘s mobile properties , such as vehicles or valuable cargo en-route from one location to another . But because it is becoming less expensive to maintain such systems , many companies now use the system to monitor the location of their mobile employees (sales executives , delivery personnel , messengers , etc . It has become a means for employers to check on the efficiency and productivity of employees whose tasks are accomplished outside the office area or in the field

Since it can only pinpoint location and time , it is not an effective means of checking whether an employee is actually doing the prescribed task in a certain location . It is also not a violation of an individual ‘s privacy , provided the employer monitors the employee only during office hours

Wire communications

Conversations recorded over the telephone are considered wire communications ‘ involving the human voice over wires , cable , etc . The recording or otherwise interception of telephone conversations is illegal . However , there is an exclusion provided called the business phone extension , in which the nature of the work deals with the public (Johnson , 1995 ) There are some jobs when it is necessary to monitor work progress and quality . This is especially apt in the case of telemarketers , or telephone customer care staff , though both the employee and the client must be informed that they may be recorded prior to the transaction , either by the employee or by an automatic voice prompt , after which the continuation of any conversation constitutes consent . However there are other forms of surveillance regarding the use of the telephone , such as monitoring the number of times of use duration of calls , or telephone numbers dialed . These are not necessarily violations of right to privacy since they are not conversations nor does it intercept the communication

Electronic communications

Electronic communications encompass e-mail , voice mail and computer s that would constitute a transfer of data via electronic or photo-optical means , and is not included under the definition of wired communications (Johnson , 1995 ) This is currently the main source of information transfer relevant to most office environments and the potential source of most damage and theft , which is why there are so many ways devised to monitor employee activity

In a survey of Internet access at work , a majority of employees have used office resources to do extracurricular activities such as gambling online , E-mailing , chatting , playing games and stock trading (Bonsor 2007

Software is available that may be installed in workstations that monitor incoming and outgoing electronic data . Packet sniffers , log s and desktop monitoring programs are some of the more popular types used in many networks and workstations (Bonsor , 2007

Packet sniffers are programs that monitor the data streams that pass over a network . When it is implemented in a network with the purpose of monitoring the data activity of network users , the packet sniffer is set either as unfiltered (notes all data coming and going ) or filtered (specific to certain types of data . The packet sniffer has the capability to record the sites visited , e-mail addresses sent to , s downloaded and Internet-based phone calls . This data is saved in the hard disk of the server for later analysis

Log s are also designed to inform the system administrator of the employee ‘s activities , but these are saved in the workstation ‘s memory either in the operating system or in the cache of the browser . This is automatically done by most computer systems , and does not need installation of another program

Desktop monitoring programs intercepts signals sent by one workstation whenever the keyboard is used or an application is opened . The receiving station , usually the system administrator , is then able to duplicate the keystrokes and see what is on the screen of the targeted station . These programs can be installed directly to the workstation , or through an e-mail that carries an attachment which , when accessed , installs the program (Bonsor , 2007

Surfing of Web sites outside the interest of the company is monitored particularly when it comes to pornographic sites and the downloading of potentially harmful s . Alerts are sounded by desktop monitoring programs when such sites are visited (Bonsor , 2007 ) Recent judicial interpretations of sexual harassment and other work environment issues have also led to a tighter control of what goes in and out of the office (Kirk , 2005

How far can an employer go in terms of retrieving and opening an employee ‘s email as a means of electronic surveillance ? According to Federal law , in general terms , an employer can retrieve and open an employee ‘s email provided certain criteria are met

E-mail is retrieved after transmission takes place and while it is in storage

The employer can only monitor company-owned and -provided email access

That the employer must inform all its employees of the company ‘s policy on email and data and of the possibility that the company can and may retrieve said information without prior notice (King , 2005

Although this may be construed as an invasion of privacy , the justification for such policies is that the email access is provided for the purpose of conducting business , personal and private e-mails should not even be in evidence . Moreover , all information that is business in nature should be disclosed or made accessible to the employer . Since the purpose of the email access is for business , employees should keep personal emails to a minimum and if possible exclude using it for messages of a private nature

In this regard , it should be noted that there have been several cases wherein courts have ruled in favor of employers in cases wherein they were sued for violation of privacy rights due to retrieval of an employee ‘s email messages . In most of these cases , employers were prompted to take such an action mainly because there was reason to believe that the employee warranted investigation or is suspected of going against the company ‘s rules or policies

Documents and s created by an employee in the assigned computer workstation or documents and s employee received from others via email or other electronic means , which are all stored in the employee ‘s computer workstation are subject to monitoring . In today ‘s wired world almost all office computers are connected (via LAN , Internet , etc ) and because of this and new surveillance software , employers have the capability of retrieving s from any computer within the company ‘s network

Web logs , commonly referred to as blogs , are subject to scrutiny by employers , whether they were created in the office or in the employees own time and computer , because these are posted on sites that are accessed by the public . An employer has the right to bring action against an employee who posts detrimental comments about the company (Kirk , 2005

Based on the lack , if not absence , of laws regarding this , it is not considered a violation of the right to privacy to take copies of documents from an employee ‘s workstation , provided it is taken from computers owned by the company . This means that any document created and stored in the company ‘s computer becomes company property and as such the employer has the right to retrieve said information

Conclusion

The technological developments of the past few years are changing the business environment . There is access to faster , wider and more flexible means of communication . As such , businesses have to be more vigilant in to keep up with its competitors as well as the demands of its clients . Because data has become a prime commodity , and information is power , the need for a secure and effective electronic surveillance system has never been most timely . There is need for proactive measures to prevent the deliberate or inadvertent leaking or disclosing of proprietary information that could mean the ruin of a company

There has also been a steady rise in litigation of unlawful dismissals which may readily be settled with the results of surveillance footage or recordings . These considerations have brought about the present crop of electronic surveillance systems

The best defense against claims of invasion of privacy complaints is transparency . There must not be any indication that employers desire to catch employees doing something wrong . The emphasis is on the prevention of wrongdoing , so it must be with full knowledge that surveillance is undertaken in the workplace

References

Bonsor , K (2007 ) How Workplace Surveillance Works HowStuffWorks .com Retrieved January 30 , 2007 from http /computer .howstuffworks .com /workplace-surveillance .htm /printable

Digital surveillance on the Rise Surveillance-Source .com . Retrieved January 30 , 2007 from http /www .surveillance-source .com /Digital_Surveillance .htm

Flynn , L (2003 ) Now Digital , Spy Camera Technology Widens Gaze The New York Times Company . Retrieved January 29 , 2007 from http /www .criminology .fsu .edu /book /Cybercriminology /Now 20Digital 20Sp y 20Camera 20Technology 20Widens 20Gaze .htm

Johnson , B (1995 ) Technological Surveillance in the Workplace Fairfield and Woods ,

.C . Retrieved January 30 , 2007 from http /www .fwlaw .com /techsurv .html

Jones , A (2005 ) Big Brother is Here Alex Jones ‘ Prison Planet .com Retrieved January 29 , 2007 from http /www .prisonplanet .com /articles /october2005 /091005Bigbro .htm

King , N (2005 ) Electronic Monitoring : How Far Can You Go ? Armor Forensics . Retrieved January 29 , 007 from http /www .forensics-intl .com /art19 .html

Kirk , N (2005 ) Managing in today ‘s electronic workplace [Electronic version] Connecticut Business Industry Association , July /August 2005 – Vol . 83 , No . 6

Morgan , K (2007 ) Types of Employee-Monitoring Systems in the Workplace University of St . Francis . Retrieved January 30 , 2007 from http /www .stfrancis .edu /ba /ghkickul /stuwebs /bs /works /monitoring1a htm

Video Surveillance Systems Surveillance-Source .com . Retrieved January 30 , 2007 from http /www .surveillance-source .com video_surveillance_system .htm

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