Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Somebody IS Watching You!

If you're anything like me, the mere mention of "the money you could be saving by switching to Geico" will leave, "I always feel like, somebody's watching me" stuck in your head for days. Well, that and the fact that it's on TV every 30 seconds. If you get the feeling somebody's watching you at work there may be a very reasonable explanation: Somebody IS watching you... or at least your email.

A new study by Proofpoint (as reported by the National Law Journal - subscription required), shows that 38% of large employers are monitoring outbound emails! That's up from 29% in 2008, approximately a 30% increase. To me, the most astonishing statistic was that one third of the companies surveyed, "employ staff whose primary or exclusive job is to monitor the content of outbound email" (emphasis added).

This is just another example of the double-edged sword of the Internet. Surely these same companies are using the web to broadcast their marketing across the globe. On the other side, their trade secrets can also be shared across the globe in an instant.

Then there's the third side (the triple-edged sword?): companies have the technological capability to monitor attempted electronic disclosures. Of course, how this is perceived by employees is another matter entirely (OK, lots of edges). Finally, employees maintain some expectation of privacy in the workplace which may impact acceptable monitoring practices. So goes the back-and-forth, pros and cons, of the web.