back to article US firms use own staff to snoop on co-workers

The UK may have more CCTV cameras than anywhere else in the world but US workers are kept under even closer tabs over internet use at work, according to a new survey. Two in five (41 per cent) of large US firms pay staff to either read or analyse the contents of outbound emails. One in four (26 per cent) of the 300 US firms …

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  1. dervheid
    Unhappy

    sounds like...

    US Firms are full of very unhappy cube rats.

    Nothing like over here, eh!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In the village you are but a number...

    Where am I?"

    "In the Village."

    "What do you want?"

    "Information."

    "Whose side are you on?"

    "That would be telling…. We want information. Information! INFORMATION!"

    "You won't get it."

    "By hook or by crook, we will."

    I might make an application called Rover to replace the human email scanners, or perhaps to serve up the dismissal notices, and provide guidelines for escorting off the premises :).

  3. Jamie
    Linux

    Does not surprise me?

    I worked for a couple of large American ISPs between 2001 and 2004. During that time they had this sort of policy in.

    Problem is they always try to use the biggest instrument possible to stop the smallest thing. We had over 1000 employees at this location working 24/7 and a small amount abused stuff so they went to the extreme. You really should try trouble shooting internet connections while being tied down in red tape.

  4. Xee Thot
    Paris Hilton

    Your percentages don't add up.

    "Two in five (41 per cent) of ..." and "One in four (26 per cent) of the ..."

    Two in five is 40%, as one fifth of one hundred is 20....

    One in four is 25%, as in quarter of one undred is 25...

    That's why we keep seein those 110% charts about... 1% here and there when added....

    Paris just because she also has problems with percentages on tips...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Who employs them...really....

    I think they are paid stooges, employed by the DHSS (Dept. of Homeland Security S**heads).

    We send about 500k emails a day, that would be one seriously streched IT department.

    Thank god no ones watching me type on heerrrrraggghhhhhh

  6. Joseph Harris

    Teleperformance Nazis

    Teleperformance USA (where I am, formerly Calltech Communications), a call center outsourcing partner, pays people to be "Floor Control", the primary task of which is to walk up and down the call center isles to make sure no one is accessing non-work websites.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    You got to love this...

    Wow, you really do know how to do simple math... Was it three or four years wasted in uni?

    I am sure the fractions are given as average and the value in brackets is the actual value. If dont have anything to say its best to say nothing...

    As per email policy, unfortunately if we do employ American management style we are going to suffer from the same issues... I am personally fed up with this Big Brother house/country...

    Rant out

    Paris because she hears no evil, sees no evil, does no evil

  8. Herby

    Re: In the village you are but a number...

    "Who are you"

    "I'm number two"

    "Who is number one"

    "You are Number six" (or is it: "YOU are, Number six")

    "I am not a number......."

    The difference of a comma is quite a lot. Some of us really ARE in control of our lives, much as others don't want that to be true!

  9. Chris G Silver badge

    It's worse than that Jim

    American( and British) companies encourage staff to rat on their colleagues for almost any transgressions of company policies or political correctness policies. The world is now an unhealthy mixture of Orwellian Big Brother and the nazi's rat on your parents/brother/sister etc kind of thinking. you have either got to be a model worker (with a brown nose) or not give a rat's arse.

  10. heystoopid
    Coat

    Say

    Say , did not one land of the paranoid and insecure so called by their illusion of democratic standards tell us in their history books , a communist and very evil dictator , a man called Joseph Stalin use this very same method to rule his country absolutely !

    Wow communism style secret work police in the land that claims to be most democratic in this world , but is in reality a closet version of that which they claimed was evil, life as we know it moves in the same endless circle !

    Strangely , it reminded me of a certain dinner party scene in the Frank Capra film "Meet John Doe " when the poor schmuck realizes he has been duped big time !

    Pot .... Kettle Black>>>> !

    I'll get my Apple flame and other troll resistant coat , and put the on the men black dark sunglasses too !

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    no bad thing

    work computers and their internet connection belong to the company, dont use them for personal stuff.

    Do personal stuff at home, its not rocket science.

    If your staff have time to waste on arse book, then give them more work and give you middle management new whips.

  12. Andy Bright

    Actually you'd be surprised..

    I worked for a telecommunications company in the UK for 5 years. We produced software that logged the call details of every phone call coming into and out of a company's telephone switch. No they don't record the phone call itself, it's a lot more boring than that, and a lot more useful if you want to sack someone.

    Their phone system, they can do as they wish as long as it's not actually listening in on the call.

    There were plenty of good reasons for having the software - Police forces would keep track of response times to 999 calls, Hotels would charge customers, RAF and Army would keep track of phone card use, businesses would keep track of their customer support response times.

    But they'd also keep track of the calls you made, to whom, how often and whether that could be considered abuse. They would keep track of when employees ignored phone calls, and which extensions ignored them, and in which order. I ran the software myself and could tell if the helpdesk people I managed bumped the calls of difficult customers to the next person in line, and then the next person and so on until someone finally answered.

    Believe me when I say we dealt with the largest employers in the country - and if we had offered them the ability to track web use or read outgoing email, I doubt a single one of them would have turned it down. At least not unless it was proven illegal. I recall the court cases involving tracking the internet use of local authority computers, and all of them have said the employee has no expectation or right to privacy when using publicly funded computers. I doubt they'd rule any differently for private business. You don't own the computer you use, the company does, and therefore it has the right to know what and how it's been used by its employees. If you think using IM or blogs are in the best interests of your company, I'd make sure someone in management not only agrees, but writes and signs something to that effect. Unfortunately it's unlikely, because not most management fail to see how the massive advantages these tools can give.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ 686526279 - El Reg at least makes sures titles are not just numbers.

    The difference of the comma is a red herring or a point of reflection.

    It is your association of your idea with what being number 1 means. Perhaps the Dante's hell is your making, but how does that make you free?

    Is 0 better than 1, or -6 better than 1, how about 7 is that better than 1?

    The number 1 is still a number, not a free man :)

  14. Grant
    Thumb Up

    I'd like to see some of these wankers fired.

    In Japan some of the weblogs show management with offices spending 3~4 hours every friday afternoon surfing the prostitution sites chosing their bookings for the night. Upper management ignored these reports, but I would have been quite happy to see these wankers discipline a few times (by the company not their Firday bookings) then fired. When I was at work I worked ( now selfemployeed so if I wank off it is by definition my own time), I expected other too also or suffer the consequences.

    No I don't agree with blocking access to any site that might be considered non-work or getting upset over every phone call, but you need to set some limts or some wanker will abuse himself on company time all the time.

  15. skeptical i
    Pirate

    price of loyalty

    I'm gonna go out on a limb and posit that if companies actually treated their staff like valued employees instead of meat- bags to wring dry of every iota of soul, energy, &c., there would not be such a pervasive sense of "gotta get mine back". When the company for which I used to work was small and locally- owned, we were all "on the same team"; when we got bought by a publicly- traded conglomerate across the country, it became "us" versus "them" since we had to fight for every. single. budget request in the face of HQ trying its damndest to appease stockholders whilst not really knowing jack about how we did what we did. Jolly Roger for corporate raping, pillaging, and whip- cracking over the galley slaves.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Pointless excercise

    Find it strange that a lot of companies don't investigate the real cost of allowing or not allowing internet/IM. Sure if you say Mr X spent 40 hours on t'internet over the last month so we've lost Y amount of money on his productivity, then it seems high. But calculations like this are too simple. Mr X may well be putting in regular 10 hour shifts in for no extra pay, so in reality they aren't loosing anything, in fact there most likely gaining through not paying that overtime.

    My company investigated this and thats what they found, so they only block porn/offensive sites at the firewall. If you want to use IM then you have to use the company provided client, which is fine anyway as its a useful business tool as well (not just a way to chat with your mates on the other side of the world).

    That said we've just been bought by a North American company so things might change :(

  17. Glen Turner

    @I'd be surprised

    "...all of them have said the employee has no expectation or right to privacy when using publicly funded computers"

    An "expectation" doesn't protect the employer from the liability from intercepting and retaining communications of absolute privilege. One day we'll see an employer caught with intercepts of employee's e-mails with their doctor about an injury suffered at work or a lawyer about some breach of industrial law and the wheel will turn.

    Interesting to hear that there are people reading corporate e-mails. They'll make useful witnesses even after the corporate e-mail retention policy has deleted the primary evidence. I'm hoping those companies remember to make those e-mail readers available during discovery :-)

  18. GlamourAndCompany

    I can understand but........

    I can understand a comanies point of view, you should be working while uing our quipment in our office while were paying you. But, unless our a habitual offender of constantly surfing and not working, or if your emailing the "secret plans" to the competition, I have a problem with anyone being fired.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    But if I do all my work....

    ...and there are no performance or quality issues, why can't I keep up my contacts and other private stuff?

    Some of us can do our work well AND play.

    Management wonks are like Paris: All fluff and noise.

  20. Andraž Levstik

    @But if I do all my work....

    Sad but true... some of us actually do all our duties etc... then have time to do other things. Lucky for me the information commissioner or whatever the local one is ruled that employees receive expectation of privacy. Only if there is suspected abuse(A) or suspicion of a crime(B) can they do anything and even then

    A) it is suggested the employee be present

    but if there is a folder marked PERSONAL in someones mailbox it should not be touched

    B) only a police investigator can do so

    Infact there was recently a high profile(government) case involving something like this :)

    The people responsible already got fined...

  21. Mark

    re: no bad thing

    So let them go home after the 8 hour shifts.

    They can then have time to USE their home internet connection.

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