According to a survey done by the American Management Association, forty-five percent of large and mid-sized companies, "record and review their employees' communications and activities on the job, including phone calls, e-mail and computer files. ("Privacy Issues at Work")." With the fast paced advancement of technology today, businesses are taking advantage and controlling the performance of the company through electronic employee monitoring. According to the Office of Technology Assessment, electronic monitoring is the "computerized collection, storage, analysis, and reporting of information about employees' productive activities (Quoted in Mishra and Crampton, 1998)" Employee monitoring is being used to increase customer satisfaction, improve employee performance, and enhance productivity.
E-mail and the Internet offer a vast array of benefits to corporations, such as improved communication among employees, improved customer support, efficient research capacity, and new means of establishing “brand” presence in a potentially global context. Nevertheless, many employers are concerned about the down-side of easy access to the Internet and e-mail by their employees. Many employers are concerned, for instance, that employees waste time “browsing”, rather than using the Internet efficiently and productively. Moreover, employers are concerned that employees might obtain access to or post illegal materials over the Internet—such as pornography or copyright-protected documents—or that employees might make defamatory statements via e-mail or the Internet for which employers could be liable.
Finally, some are concerned that employees might transmit important trade secrets over the Internet either deliberately or inadvertently. In short, employers want to protect their investment in high technology, ensure that their employees are working productively, and avoid any liability that might result from inappropriate use of the corporate computer network.
According to Computer Monitoring: The Hidden War Of Control,“The employer of today has the ability and legal right to read e-mail, review files stored on a company computer, examine computer usage, and track individual employee computer activities. The idea of anonymous actions is an illusion. Every action between a network and the computers connected to it can be tracked. Every action by an individual worker on a computer can be tracked, analyzed and used against the employee.