Heavy-handed Net policies push privacy boundaries

By Asha Tomlinson
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 01/30/2003

It's difficult to find an employee who has not used company time to surf the Net for the latest sports scores or find that perfect gift for a special someone. But is this something companies should be actively monitoring and disciplining staff about? Does an employer or HR department have the right to monitor what employees are doing on the Net to see if they’re indeed “goofing off?” Given that online use at work is relatively new, there really is no easy answer, according to several technology experts.

“I don’t think we’ve been clear at all of what is in bounds and what is out of bounds,” says Ian Turnbull, president of Laird and Greer Management Consultants. “I would argue that we’ve probably gone too far saying that the company is all knowing and all seeing and has complete access.”

With the amount of workers using the Net, surveillance is creeping to the top of many business agendas. Data released by Neilson/NetRatings two years ago found people were spending twice as much time online at work as surfers did at home.