The explosion of information and communication is shaping the landscape of monitoring of electronic communication and CCTV coverage at the workplace at high speed. Every new breakthrough to monitor employees raises serious concerns about privacy and data protection issues for both employees and employers. It is this change that has led to the evolution of Information privacy or data protection laws prohibiting the disclosure or misuse of information about private individuals that serve as employees at different organizations.
The Principles behind the Employee Monitoring Legislation
Although, the development of laws based on fair information practice goes back to 1970’s in United States’ Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW). An individual (usually an employee) who is under surveillance ought to know at the following principles on which the privacy and data protection laws are legislated.
- A statement should be a must for all the collected data.
- The data or information collected about an employee should be protected from disclosure to any other individual or organization with proper authorization by law or the consent of the subject.
- The records collected by the employee must be accurate and up to date.
- Measures and mechanisms should enforce the right of an employee to the review of the collection of the relevant data. It is to ensure accuracy; reporting of this data may be adopted on a regular basis.
- Data should be destroyed when it is no more needed for the stated purpose.
- It is prohibited to transmit personal information to locations where “equivalent” personal data protection is unavailable.
- Sensitive data (such as sexual orientation and religion) should not be collected unless there are extreme circumstances.
The Legitimate Balance in Legislation
The employees can have legitimate expectations for the protection of their privacy; however, these expectations have to be balanced with the interests and the rights of an employer. The interest and rights of the employers include the efficient function of their business and protection from any liability, loss or harm that may incur from the actions of an employee.
Rights and interests of the employer may cover legitimate grounds to protect the employer and may limit the privacy of the employee. Some of the information instances and scenarios that an employer may legitimately demand are listed below.
- The employer requires protection against the harm caused by any imminent employee’s criminal offense.
- Employee’s use of social media or networking sites may cause damage to the employer’s business reputation including leakage of confidential information.
- Any cyber offenses like cyberbullying or cyberstalking or the like at workplace carried out through the internet, e.g., social networking sites, email, etc. or mobile phone’s networks.
Balancing of different rights and interests between the employer and the employee require bringing some principals under consideration such as proportionality. It should be noted about the fact that the act of employee monitoring and surveillance solely for the interest of the employer would not justify any intrusion into worker’s privacy.
Methods of Workplace Surveillance
Whenever we think of workplace surveillance, one thing that immediately springs up in mind is the use of CCTV cameras. Video surveillance is one of the kinds of monitoring that is performed in the workplace. In contrast, your land telephone at the office can be tapped. But, very few people know that the most powerful form of surveillance at the workplace is done through mobile devices provided by your company, email monitoring, social media and geolocation tracking. All these kind of surveillance is done through an app that secretly installs on a mobile or desktop device and silently monitors and even records the activities and actions being performed on these devices to ensure that the efficiency and the productivity of the employee both are preserved.
It is an app called TheOneSpy; it was created an app for family security enhancing the parental control over young kids and teens helping them stay away from trouble online as well as offline. Since the conception of TheOneSpy, it has found wide implications in the corporate sector opening a new dimension in surveillance of employees.
TheOneSpy easily downloads on a mobile or a desktop device and runs silently in the background collecting data and information that is processed on the machine.
The flip side of the app is an online portal that can be used to monitor and surveillance purposes and can be accessed by any device with an Internet browser and an Internet connection.