DSST Business Ethics Study Guide sm

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See the paper by Los Angeles attorneys John Caragozian and Donald Warner, Jr., titled " Privacy Rights of Employees Using Workplace Computers in California ," published in 2000. How can I tell if I am being monitored at my terminal? Most computer monitoring equipment allows employers to monitor without the employees' knowledge. However, some employers do notify employees that monitoring takes place. This information may be communicated in memos, employee handbooks, union contracts, at meetings or on a sticker attached to the computer. In most cases, employees find out about computer monitoring during a performance evaluation when the information collected is used to evaluate the employee's work. 4. Electronic Mail and Voice Mail Is electronic mail private? What about voice mail? In most cases, no. If an electronic mail (e-mail) system is used at a company, the employer owns it and is allowed to review its contents. Messages sent within the company as well as those that are sent from your terminal to another company or from another company to you can be subject to monitoring by your employer. This includes web-based email accounts such as Yahoo and Hotmail as well as instant messages. The same holds true for voice mail systems. In general, employees should not assume that these activities are not being monitored and are private. Several workplace privacy court cases have been decided in the employer's favor. See for example: Bourke v. Nissan, www.loundy.com/CASES/Bourke_v_Nissan.html Smyth v. Pillsbury, www.loundy.com/CASES/Smyth_v_Pillsbury.html Shoars v. Epson, http://fac-staff.seattleu.edu/mchon/web/Cases/shoars.html When I delete messages from my terminal, are they still in the system?
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Yes. Electronic and voice mail systems retain messages in memory even after they have been deleted. Although it appears they are erased, they are often permanently "backed up" on magnetic tape, along with other important data from the computer system. My employer's electronic mail system has an option for marking messages as "private." Are those messages protected? In most cases, no. Many electronic mail systems have this option, but it does not guarantee your messages are kept confidential. An exception is when an employer's written electronic mail policy states that messages marked "private" are kept confidential. Even in this situation, however, there may be exceptions. (See Smyth v. Pillsbury.) Is there ever a circumstance in which my messages are private? Some employers use encryption to protect the privacy of their employees' electronic mail. Encryption involves scrambling the message at the sender's terminal, then unscrambling the message at the terminal of the receiver. This ensures the message is read only by the sender and his or her intended recipient. While this system prevents co-workers and industrial "spies" from reading your electronic mail, your employer may still have access to the unscrambled messages.
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