Sean Jang a student in Jon Pfeiffer’s Spring 2013 Mass Communication Law class at Pepperdine University, wrote the following essay in response to the question: “You just landed your dream job. On your first day of work your employer issues you a company laptop. The topic of whether your use of the computer will be monitored is not discussed. Should the company be able to track what web sites you visit or e-mails you send?”
If the company did not thoroughly explain the employee’s IT policies and provide an agreement form with me, I believe that the company does not have a right to track my activities on the Internet. This is a clear violation of the one’s right to privacy thus such action is unjust. The main (and possibly the only) reason why companies track the employee’s online activities is to make sure that the work being produced in the office remains confidential without any disclosure to other competing companies. I realize that the company won’t take an advantage of this situation. However, what if the company does? What if the company tracks how many times I’m on Facebook and find that as a reason to terminate my employment? Should they have all the right to track everything? The company must draw out its intentions and what exactly will they be monitoring. This way, the workers won’t feel like there’s someone watching every activity on their electronic devices; instead, they will know what they need to mindful of.
In order for the company to lawfully monitor my Internet activities, there must be a written agreement and consent given by me. It’s another thing to know that the company’s intentions rather than being caught off guard and be violated with my privacy. This applies to not only IT policies but the office ethics as well. The employees are fully informed with unethical behaviors in the office such sexual harassment. If they fail to mention the IT monitoring, the company’s intentions seem only suspicious. With this written form, I will be fully aware of how I need to approach my computer usage at work. In addition, I do believe that it’ll be even more beneficial to provide an informational forum during the orientation and go over the policies. This way, the employees will not just skim over the paper and sign. Instead, they will be fully informed and educated with the policies.
Sean Jang is a senior at Pepperdine University majoring in advertising.
Jon Pfeiffer is an experienced entertainment and copyright trial attorney practicing in Santa Monica. Jon is also an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California where he teaches Media Law. COM 570 covers First Amendment issues as well as copyright, defamation and privacy.