Email's use in the job

Corporate E−Mail Monitoring
A. Presentation of the Issue:
Today, according to `The Wall Street Journal', a third of the world's largest companies monitor employee
e−mail. This is because of the fear that company owners have about workers spending work time on personal
e−mails. An issue that arises from these actions is that it is found by many to be a very abusive practice due to
privacy rights of individuals. But on the other hand, thanks to these practices it has been discovered that there
are indeed employees that abuse of company email by using it for non−productive ends and therefore lead to
them losing their job. But although people do have the right for privacy, these rights disappear once the people
are situated in their work space.
B. IT Background of the Issue:
E−mail is the form of sending messages in electronic form through electronic mediums and also the oldest.
According to Wikipedia, it currently works as follows; first, the message is sent from the computer client
through a Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) and to the local Internet Service Provider (ISP). Then the
ISP looks for the domain of the destination through the internet through the same Domain Name Server
(DNS) as for webpages. Then it finds the ISP address where the domain is and sends the message. Finaly the
recipient retrieves the message from the ISP through the Post Office Protocol (POP3) to its terminal and reads
the message. The technologies used for this purpose are various types of monitoring software that are mainly
installed on every client computer of a company. A client computer is a terminal in a network which is
connected to a server to share resources throughout the network. This software records practically everything
the user is typing, from e−mails to instant messages to web−addresses to complete e−mails and word
documents. Another name for these types of software is `keyloggers'. These keyloggers are software packages
that records everything mentioned above by logging every key that the user types on the keyboard thus its
name. Some of them have advanced features like sending a customized detailed report of the e−mails and
other content logged by the keylogger to either a computer within the same network or through e−mail to the
boss to decide if the content typed and viewed by the monitored user would be considered correct conduct in
the workplace. This final report is usually sent in encrypted form and password protected to avoid security
breaches. One of the trends of these monitoring technologies is to incorporate visual samples of the content
shown on the monitor upon certain actions or lapses of time. The purpose of this is so the man in charge of
looking at the monitored content has further proof of what the monitored employee was doing. Another trend
is that now keyloggers can alert the boss when certain phrases are typed on the keyboard to have immediate
notification of when employees break the code of conduct. So the boss or whoever is in charge of monitoring
can take immediate action.
C. Impact of the Issue:
The impact of these practices is on the moral rights of each individual to have privacy. But these rights
disappear when people go to work1. Even in the USA where people have the Bill of Rights, inside their
workplace they are still legally vulnerable for their privacy to be withdrawn therefore some may consider this
unfair and an abuse, specially if only the low rank employees are being monitored and not senior
management1. But this shouldn't be necessary if the employees didn't misuse the internet on his work shift for
personal reasons.
This is the most direct impact that non−monitored work conditions can have because then, the company
would e paying him to do personal things instead of working. This causes a lot of costs to the company in
time because workers are spending work time for other purposes and distracting their co−workers, and in
money which is spent on bandwidth resources not used for work purposes. Additionally, studies show that
workers do in fact misuse companies' resources and therefore, it is necessary to take these measures even if
some people say it is not quite morally correct. An example of this was the case of 330 New Zealand police
officers being under investigation for using the force's e−mail system to distribute pornographic material. In
this case, a clear need for monitoring actions is shown because this type of scandals on a company like a local
police force can really damage the image not only of the organization, but also of a whole city or country
which is a very bad thing for society because it would make tourists and investors afraid of the city's security
organisms and make them look for alternatives. This also affects the local citizens since it is them that have to
live with doubtful security officers.
D. Solutions Arising From The Problem:
One solution for this problem is to have a strict code of conduct on internet usage within the organization and
make the employees conscious that this is happening. This is because if it is found by these methods that there
are still people that misuse the internet in their workplace, then there would be no choice than to sack those
workers and continue monitoring everybody. But probably by making workers conscience that they are being
monitored, they would not try to infringe the company's code of conduct and therefore the company doesn't
risk loosing a good employee. But in fact, if it is shown that employees do abide the rules, then the company
should consider lifting the monitoring activities and spending those resources in something more productive.
Another solution that would arise from this problem is to have somebody to personally monitor each worker
of the company. The purpose of this is to give the feeling to employees that they are being watched over and
therefore, avoid misusing the internet during work hours.
E. Selection of Sources:
• The Wall Street Journal − Monitoring of Workers Is Boss's Right but Why Not Include Top Brass? by Jared
Sandberg, May 18, 2005; Page B1,,SB111636541232736178−A3U67wAWDZxL3Lg5R9OWMNI_oGA_20060517
• E−mail, Wikipedia,
• Spectorsoft Inc. professional keylogger company.
• `330 police staff investigated over objectionable emails', The New Zealand Herald, 21/04/05
The Wall Street Journal − Monitoring of Workers Is Boss's Right but Why Not Include Top Brass? by Jared
Sandberg, May 18, 2005; Page B1
E−mail, Wikipedia,
Spectorsoft Inc. professional keylogger company.
`330 police staff investigated over objectionable emails', The New Zealand Herald, 21/04/05