[Translation] Confidentiality in the office: where is the line that should not be crossed

    Let's face it: visiting non-work sites from your workplace is a common occurrence. At least for those who are not without the opportunity to do this. But do you know that bosses can keep track of your adventures?

    On the one hand, modern Big Data analysis tools help large companies to be more productive by daily providing employees with data useful in their work. On the other hand, employers are almost certainly tempted to collect some data about the employees themselves. In an era of rapid digital transformation, such companies can track not only customer habits, but also the behavior of their own personnel.

    This is the current reality. Companies endowed with Big Data processing tools are increasingly turning their eyes inward. Do they go beyond the confidentiality of the workplace? - You decide.


    In 2003 (read “in the absence of iPhones, Twitter, and hip-hop ”), the US Bureau of Labor Statistics published a review of legal and statistical information on employees who used corporate email and Internet access under the heading “ Caution, employers and workers!". But do not get the US government wrong. It meant that employees should be informed that employers have a wide range of rights and authority to track and retrieve data from the channels they provide, and employers must understand that they are obligated to ensure that there is nothing illegal in the traffic of their networks .

    Then and now the courts sided with the employers, taking measures to employees who are doing something different from the usual walking on sites and messaging. Despite all the calls for confidentiality in the workplace.

    What about monitoring sites visited by employees and reading email? Do employers monitor your use of certain keywords, mood changes, and periods of high work intensity or lull? This happens, but so far more often at the forefront. For example, IBM Security Intelligence can grind annual volumes of email and browser traffic to identify “ dissatisfied employees .” The Wall Street Journal provides an example:

    “The company can analyze the email of the employee expressing a positive attitude towards the manager at work, but reveal that“ when talking with a partner or strangers, the mood becomes slightly different, ”says Byrd. “This picture, combined with other factors, can lead to the employee being taken into account for further analysis by IT specialists.”


    Heard about ActivTrak ? This is a monitoring service that employers can use to track your online activities and even get the contents of your screen. Another example is the AgileTrac service .who is trying to help doctors manage their time more productively and ideally to reduce the waiting time to zero. And all the information on employees who are not able to collect ActivTrak collect RFID-badges company Sociometrics : your location, interaction with customers and other employees, the volume and tone of your speech and many other useful things. As noted by Sociometrics representatives and management , badges with chips are never issued secretly, and data is usually provided in a generalized format for all employees, rather than as separate reports for each day.

    What is it: violation of employee confidentiality or the law of the employer?


    Let's say you are a former sales manager with a technical bias and are eager to make a career leap into programming. You persistently comprehended all the necessary knowledge, but you have nothing to brag about “on paper” or in the form of experience. Fortunately, for people like you, there is a Gild Score service ready to measure the intangible assets of your personality, your desire and deep interest in technology, as well as bring you face to face with the right employer.

    However, this is the bright side of employment with the help of social networks. The flip side, of course, is the loss of employment opportunities or promotions if you are not active enough on the Web. Your public posts on Facebook do not give the impression that you think about your craft on the weekend. You don't answer questions on Quora, don't blog, or share new posts on LinkedIn. Of course, at work you give thoughtful advice and make informed decisions, but do you judge your competence by your actions on the network at your inopportune time? Does this occur in violation of confidentiality in the workplace?

    The good news is that most employers are still much more concerned about your personal qualities ( and your answers to high-tech questions) rather than about your online profile. And you can at least store your created profiles as private, as private as possible - in most states, employers do not have the right to require passwords from you.


    Companies like Google could have been extremely surprising to the world, given the data that they have collected about their well-connected, easy-to-track employees on their giant campus. “Could” is the key word. Instead, Google distributes stories to employees, feeds cakes and croissants, and tries to make sure that the meeting time suits all participants.

    As noted in the Big Data Trends Review by Atlantic Magazine :

    “... with all the technological enthusiasm of Google, their approach is still deeply human. A real, living person looks through each resume received by the company. Recruitment decisions are made by the committee and, to a large extent, are based on the opinions formed during the process of structured interviews. ”

    In addition, at the time when many companies became more active and began to evaluate employees not only by the content of the resume, - who retains the right to make the final managerial decision? To make decisions, manage and operate, even in the Big Data era, companies still hire people. The human factor allows us to see trends that nothing else sees. And people know that a company that invaded confidentiality at their workplace - whether or not justifiable - is not the one they would like to work for.

    What do you think of workplace privacy? Where is the trait that the employer should not cross?

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