DSST Business Ethics and Society-Study Guide 2

Yes telephone numbers dialed from phone extensions

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Yes. Telephone numbers dialed from phone extensions can be recorded by a device called a pen register. It allows the employer to see a list of phone numbers dialed by your extension and the length of each call. This information may be used to evaluate the amount of time spent by employees with clients. Computer Monitoring Employers can use computer software that enables them to see what is on the screen or stored in the employees' computer terminals and hard disks. Employers can monitor Internet usage such as web-surfing and electronic mail. People involved in intensive word-processing and data entry jobs may be subject to keystroke monitoring. Another computer monitoring technique allows employers to keep track of the amount of time an employee spends away from the computer or idle time at the terminal. Is my employer allowed to see what is on my terminal while I am working? Generally, yes. Since the employer owns the computer network and the terminals, he or she is free to use them to monitor employees. Employees are given some protection from computer and other forms of electronic monitoring under certain circumstances. Union contracts, for example, may limit the employer's right to monitor. Also, public sector employees may have some minimal rights under the Constitution, in particular the Fourth Amendment which safeguards against unreasonable search and seizure. 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. When I delete messages from my terminal, are they still in the system? Yes. Electronic and voice mail systems retain messages in memory even after they have been deleted 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. Are my text messages on an employer-provided cell phone private? In an opinion issued on June 18, 2008, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that employers must have either a warrant or the employee's permission to see cell phone text messages that are not stored by the employer or by someone the employer pays for storage. While e-mail typically is stored on a company's own servers, text messages usually are stored by cell phone companies and the employer does not directly pay for their storage. That
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