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Corporate Spying?
Calling all tech Geeks......... (You know who you are...)

Can a fairly big company with proper IT facilities monitor an employees internet usage?

Common sense they can monitor browsing history, but can then delve deeper and see/read whats on your screen and furthermore see your Hotmail/Yahoo mailings?

My mate has just had a warning (think all staff have) that internet usage is being monitored and anyone using personal email is subject to scrutiny and screen-grabs???

I reckon this is illegal....

What say you geekdom?
They do this at my college. Not at first but if they have any reason to suspect your mis-using the net they can directly monitor what your looking at/doing and if need be remotely turn off the PC
My riding is more up and down than the damn area I live in! And the tart's knickers who lives next door - Combined!  :o
Very easy to monitor all network traffic, source and destination. Most larger firms will have web proxy servers so all internet traffic goes via them and they will be fully logged and this could be to the point where personal information is stored in these log files from people logging onto sites etc.

It is also very simple to have full desktop monitoring, key logging, screenshot grabbing at desired intervals etc. I looked into it before as I had to for my job and I believe its a bit of a grey area. Iirc the company must advise the member of staff if their PC is being monitored however this is quite often a T&C in their initial contract.

If it is stated that companies computers and email systems can be used for personal emailing then the company has to get permission from the user to view their inbox. If however its stated that no personal emails can be sent  and you do, they can look at them as they want. (refers to local Outlook stuff of course not yahoo)

In the past its been rare but as the Internet has got bigger etc, facebook and all that, more firms are starting to put clauses in contracts regarding non work internet use and coupled with desktop monitoring gives them lots of evidence to fall  back on with any disputes such as employees being on the net and not working. If they say you can use company computers during work time for the odd bit of personal use but have informed you that all desktops are monitored, they will of course have shots of you in yahoo etc if thats what you do. As your friend has been warned, it will probably be setup to auto grab screens when he goes to yahoo mail and as mentioned above, this could be used to say he isnt working when he should be and so on, not the sort of thing you want against you with all the lay offs going on...

I have only been asked to monitor a few people in my time here mainly due to some dispute going on. As I am the sysadmin I can get to whatever I want on the network but of course I only go into other peoples mails etc when asked by the directors or go anywhere near their private files, accounts and so on else it would be grounds for instant dismissal

Being on forums all day is testing the network which is my job... Big Grin
Well its quite clear if you are conducting personal activities during work time (Facebook, Ebay, Hotmail etc) then you expect to get into trouble - Thats regardless of whether or not its logged/viewed, you're simply wasting company time.

I think his point was that he does only go on during lunch hour and maybe one of 2 times outside of that (who doesnt?)

My real question was is it legal for someone to go nosing through your "personal" Yahoo/Hotmail screen and viewing personal information, what if he was doing his internet banking?

Of course if using corporate Outlook, you'd have to be stupid to assume its not logged or kept somewhere.

Sounds like the employer is on a mission to P*ss people off there, which wont help any situation.
From my company's perspective we've been told they can monitor our internet and email useage but talking to my boss a while back he said HR policy dicteted that if we were being watched we had to be warned about it first.  That said i wouldn't be hard to prove some people spend more time on the web than others...

Right - back to work!!!
Point is, its their computer, their office space, their network etc, even if its during lunch hours, its still their property and even if it doesnt state in his contract, no personal use allowed, the fact they have said they can and will monitor the computers means they are probably covered. If he bought in his own laptop and he was allowed to use that on the company network then monitoring that outside of work hours would be a different matter
My friend was sacked for misuse of company internet. She was talking to her father who also works for the same company using their chat option. She used it too much and was told that it was interfering with her ability to work efficiently. After a warning she continued to use the email/chat and was unceremoniously sacked. Her father was reprimanded but retained his job.

Do not get busted for emails at work, get busted for stealing a stapler or something like that...
Keep it foolish...
If and when my company is big enough to have a handful or more of staff, I would simply block ALL things like that or set a timer on it to unblock at lunch or something.

Its the easiest way instead of wasting more man hours monitoring it and policing it.

At my previous employers, that had a rule of "no personal internet during working hours" - which was fine, I jumped onto my emails at lunch and maybe a spot of Ebay (this was before Facebook etc)

Then I was called in for "excessive use of the internet AND the phone" - What??? - utter b*llocks. Our "manager" looked after certain members of staff more than others, and there was about 5 (me included) that got reprimanded for doing nothing, when the "chosen few" where listening to internet radio, sitting on Myspace and Ebay and emailing all their mates ALL DAY.

I then made of point of not going on the internet AT ALL or using the company phone AT ALL (I never used the phone anyway as I switched my mobile on at Lunch) and I was still called in for abusing company resources - I made a rather LOUD point that since the last "reprimand" Ive never used the internet and I wanted proof/logs of me doing so (he couldnt prove anything and knew it) - so there and then I told my boss where to stick his job and start treating people equally and stop being a c*nt.

My business started 1 hour after I walked out - nothing like anger to motivate someone! Best thing Ive ever done.

This was me on the way home that day.
I would love to say that to my MD, just the c*** bit, a bit smelly hairy one. I do sometimes day dream about just walking out and sodding off travelling for a while, use some of the house deposit money I have in the bank etc as the stress is just getting worse. Got people ranting constantly this morning about stuff up near Birmingham at this new company they bought at the end of last year that I now have to support as well sigh
I had the business all planned anyway really, was planning on starting it part time in the evenings etc to build up to see if it flew - but that one afternoon I was called in for something I never done (amongst others) I flipped, shouted for about an hour and argued that the bloke has no idea on how to run an office and then left - brilliant.

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