In today’s commercial world, Information Technology plays a major role in achieving targets and solving problems of organisations and businesses. With the advent of the technology in organisations, there are circumstances where it generates ethical conflicts in profession. Best example would be, monitoring employees to inspect their performances, how they handle company assets, internal colligations and etc. Also most of the companies trace the official computer screens, sent & received email messages, tapping the telephone conversations and even using GPS tracking systems to monitor the location of the workers.
With the collaboration of American Management Association and ePolicy Institute has done an important survey on this in 2007. According to them 65% of the directors use website blockers to mitigate their employees’ access to the irrelevant websites. Facts depict 43% of companies record their workers’ emails. The 28% of workers have fired due to email misuse. One billion dollars wasted each year in large industries by the workers who misuse internet for non-work related activities during the office hours (Sentinel 1999).
Employers monitor their employees using various techniques. Such as, using surveillance cameras, screening computer desktop and also sniffing the network using various spyware and keyloggers. In most organisations these operations are done without consensus of the workers. The facts indicate, approximately 92% of the private sector companies do employee monitoring using these kind of advance tools & technologies.
There will be privacy concerns when monitoring employees in a workplace without their knowledge. As employees should be treated with equality, they have rights on their confidentiality, anonymity and solitude. They can rise against the employer to question about their privacy & security within the company. Should an employee’s privacy has to be violated by the employer even getting paid by them? Can the workers become discriminated or humiliated by their bosses?
Every human has the rights on their personal life. Universal Declaration for Human Rights clearly mentions “Everyone has the right to respect for private and family life, his home and correspondence”(UDHR, Article 8). No one likes anybody else getting to know about their personal details without acknowledgement, even if the third-party could be a policeman or any other legal firm of the country. They could not directly sneak into a person’s life without a legal statement/warrant or a valid reason. Otherwise, the affected individual has rights to take appropriate legal actions on them. Every human has the freedom from surveillance (Baase 2008). Monitoring the employees creates a conflict over the transparency in company policies.
When considering the religion aspect, every religion speaks about the protection of the human and the society. Exposure of the personal data and personal attitudes of a person may impact negatively on the beliefs of a particular group or a culture, because everyone has miserable moments and cherished beliefs in our personal lives that cannot be revealed.
“No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honor and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks”United Nations 1966
There could be vulnerabilities when handling very personal data. Such as, contact details, account passwords and email messages of the workers. Social issues might occur when those details were exposed. Accuracy of the technology also questionable. There would be malfunctions when tracking the location of a worker using GPS devices, so the data which shown would be inaccurate. According to the Privacy Act of 1974, none of the firms can expose any information related to anyone’s personal attitudes or qualities (Privacy Act 1974). This legislation is applicable for all industries and firms in any dimension.
Data Protection Act 1998 also discloses the protection of personal data of an individual. According to the 1st key principle of this act, personal data must be collected with the authority of the subject. The 6th principle says, data shall be processed in accordance to the rights of the related person. As in the 7th principle, related organisational measures shall be taken against unlawful processing, accidental loss or the destruction of data.
As per BCS code of conduct, every professional must not disrepute their profession and must support their fellow members. They too have responsibility on carrying-out the professional responsibilities. The employer and the employee shall play a professional role to have regard to public health & safety. The workers of the organisation might have abnormal attitudes that they conceal from the society, but when they have being monitored/traced, all those attitudes or behaviours will be revealed to the outsiders. This will criticise the particular individual’s chivalry and might cause in severe psychological disorders like depression, that may impact awkwardly to the society as well.
Technology is an intellectual property of an organisation where the workers have obligated to protect them and preserve from wastage. Computers and internet has given to a worker to use them for official duties. Consider the statement, “The employer has an interest in monitoring employee activity to ensure the quality of work and the employer has the right to protect property from theft and fraud” (isaca 2004). According to this, an employer may know about the usage of the assets to protect them from wastage, theft and fraud.
Employee monitoring can be done ethically and professionally. The employer could develop a set of policies & ethical codes, that every worker should agree when they onboard. Employer must emphasize those policies or codes frequently to the workers. They can publish these policies through the public speakers of the company or e-mailing them individually or otherwise exhibiting them on the notice board. It is important to specify the penalties of violating those policies.
As the conclusion of my literature review, the management of a company has the responsibility to increase the profit of the company and to protect the intellectual properties & assets. When they make strategic decisions, they must consider the Ethical, Legal, Social and Professional impact to the company and the affective groups. Having a perfect code of conduct will help to build a good understanding between the controller and the controlled parties within the organisation. Also, the employees of the company having the responsibility to put their utmost effort to complete their tasks within the allocated period and contribute to achieve company goals. If both parties (Employers & Employees) doesn’t follow these code of conducts, then it might compromise the continuation of the organisation.
- Baase, S. (2008) A Gift of Fire (3rd edition). Prentice Hall.
- Deborah G. J. (2001) Computer Ethics (3rd edition). Pearson Education Inc, India.
- Manning, R. C. (1997 p.817) Journal of Business Ethics. Springer Science+Business Media.
- Sentinel, O. (1999).
- United Nations Organizations, Universal Declaration for Human Rights (Article 8).
- Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (2011). Workplace Privacy and Employee Monitoring. Available from:https://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs7-work.htm[Accessed 10 November2011].
- Bahaudin G. Mujtaba. Ethical Implications of Employee Monitoring [online]. Available from: http://www.huizenga.nova.edu/jame/employeemonitoring.htm[Accessed 7 November 2011].
- Robin L. W. (2011). Employee Monitoring and Surveillance — The Growing Trend [online]. Available from: http://www.isaca.org/Journal/Past-Issues/2004/Volume-1/Pages/Employee-Monitoring-and-Surveillance-The-Growing-Trend.aspx[Accessed 25 October 2011].
- Department of Computer Education and Instructional Technologies. (2009) Problems Related to Computer Ethics: Origins of the problems and suggested solutions [online]. Eskisehir, Turkey.