Bloomberg’s Dune Lawrence has written a fascinating article on how employers are tracking employee’s online activities. In one sense, such monitoring is perfectly acceptable given cybercrime and theft of company data. Lawrence opens his article by pointing to the case of Edward Snowden. Whether one thinks of Snowden as a traitor or hero, he is an example of an employee who breeched his employer’s security protocols (Technically, he was a contract employee).
The employer’s challenge is to control data it does not want to share with competitors or the public. However, Lawrence also writes about predictive technology that reads employees’ email and identifies key words like “medical bills” or “late rent” that might indicate someone who will be a risk to the company.
Some worker advocates would say that employers are playing the role of Big Brother. I disagree. A company has every right to monitor how you are using its tools and analyzing that data to see if you are misbehaving on the job. What’s the simple solution for employees? Only use work computers and mobile devices for work-related activities. If a company allows you to use company-owned devices for personal reason, do so with the knowledge that your boss can be tracking your activities. Keep your personal communication and online activities, and you should be safe from any snooping employer.