Is It Legal for Your Boss to Monitor Your Computer?

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Network Security Austin Needs to Know About

Network Security Austin IT Provider uon discusses the rules about micro management, computer spying, and other tips for network security Austin businesses should think about.

Is it legal for your boss to monitor your computer?  When it comes down to it, the courts have ruled that your boss monitoring your email and other computer related activities during work hours and on company owned equipment, Internet, and email accounts is not illegal.  Companies typically monitor their employees online usage in order to managed their business in confidence.  Some of those techniques include:


1. Avoid claims based on sexual, racial, ethnic, or harassment.

2. Protect against employees posting or sending confidential files or information.

3. Reduce exposure to intellectual property infringement claims.

4. Decrease improper email etiquette or embarrassing emails attributed to an employer getting leaked.

5. Protect users and the network from computer viruses, malware, and spyware.

6. Improve employee performance and productivity.


Employers should seek professional assistance to create an AUP (acceptable use policy) that meets the best fit for the business and professional staff.

An acceptable use policy (AUP; also known as acceptable usage policy or Fair Use Policy) is a set of rules applied by the owner/manager of a networkwebsite or large computer system that restrict the ways in which the network, website or system may be used. AUP documents are written for corporations,[1] businessesuniversities,[2] schools,[3] internet service providers,[4] and website owners[5] often to reduce the potential for legal action that may be taken by a user, and often with little prospect of enforcement.

Acceptable Use Policies are an integral part of the framework of information security policies; it is often common practice to ask new members of an organization to sign an AUP before they are given access to its information systems. For this reason, an AUP must be concise and clear, while at the same time covering the most important points about what users are, and are not, allowed to do with the IT systems of an organization. It should refer users to the more comprehensive security policy where relevant. It should also, and very notably, define what sanctions will be applied if a user breaks the AUP. Compliance with this policy should, as usual, be measured by regular audits.

Many experts agree that the biggest area of abuse at work centers around the computer. Computer abuse is not just an issue of lost productivity, it may also lead to breaches in data security. A 2007 survey by the American Management Association (AMA) revealed that 66 percent of employers monitor Internet connections, 65 percent block inappropriate Web sites, 28 percent have fired employees for e-mail misuse and 30 percent have terminated workers for Internet misuse. That’s a lot of monitoring of keystrokes, content and time spent at the computer.

While only a handful of states require businesses to inform employees of such monitoring, 83 percent of employers alert their workers about their surveillance practices [source: AMA]. While that is noble, the AMA encourages companies to educate and remind their employees more regularly about the policies that affect them.  Bottom line, if you are asking yourself  “Is it legal for your boss to monitor your computer?”, the answer is still yes. Therefore, the best thing to do is remain professional at work and keep your personal life to yourself.  Use personal time to do personal things. Spend your time working when you are at your job.  Pretty simple.

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