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Private messages at work can be read by employers, says court

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posted on Jan, 13 2016 @ 10:33 AM
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a court has ruled in favour of an employer's right to view private messages

Employers can read workers' private messages sent via chat software and webmail accounts during working hours, judges have ruled.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) said a firm that read a worker's Yahoo Messenger chats sent while he was at work was within its rights.

Judges said he had breached the company's rules and that his employer had a right to check on his activities.

Such policies must also protect workers against unfettered snooping, they said.

The judges, sitting in the ECHR in Strasbourg, handed down their decision on Tuesday. It binds all countries that have ratified the European Convention on Human Rights, which includes Britain.

The worker, an engineer in Romania, had hoped the court would rule that his employer had breached his right to confidential correspondence when it accessed his messages and subsequently sacked him in 2007.


Basically his employer accessed his private messages and sacked him so he took the case to court. They ruled that employers have a right to verify you are carrying out your work in a professional manner. I can see the logic behind it and somewhat agree, bit that's a very slippery slope. Orwell anyone?




posted on Jan, 13 2016 @ 10:41 AM
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Anything on a company owned computer is free access to the company.


+1 more 
posted on Jan, 13 2016 @ 10:44 AM
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a reply to: sg1642

As an employer, let me break it down for you.

I do not pay individuals to engage in personal chat sessions on my dime, and especially on my hardware.

So, even if you are using your personal device, unless it's on your time (lunch breaks etc) then I should have a right to reprimand you, which may include anything from a verbal warning to a sobpoena to release data from your personal device - if that data was transmitted during working hours.

Now, and also, if you engage in rhetoric outside of working hours on social media which has a detrimental effect on my business, then the same rights should apply.

In other words, personal accountability starts with the individual, and his/her ego.



posted on Jan, 13 2016 @ 10:46 AM
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You are at work using an employer's resources. In theory, you are supposed to be devoting your time to the business of your employer. I have never had an employer that did not expect employees to take a private call or do some private business, perhaps on a break, but in terms of an employer's right to monitor their own resources, you bet. There should be no expectation of privacy in those circumstances. In my state, and I believe in most states, this issue was settled by the courts long ago. It was about email use on government-owned computers for private purposes.



posted on Jan, 13 2016 @ 10:53 AM
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a reply to: sg1642

I agree that employers should be able to do this. It is their equipment and they are paying for your services and time.

I have always been amazed at how much time certain posters right here on ATS spend posting and chatting while at their job. If you are the owner of the company, that is one thing. But, if you are employed by the company, they are paying for your time. They say that they are doing it during lulls or slow times at work, but if a company is paying for you to be on the job, find something company-related to do during lulls. It's theft, imo.



posted on Jan, 13 2016 @ 10:58 AM
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a reply to: queenofswords

I don't have a job that allows for such myself, but well, screw the company. Theft is what corporations do to everyone. They can cry me a river. I have no sympathy for corporations being taken advantage of at this point, what goes around comes around.



posted on Jan, 13 2016 @ 11:00 AM
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a reply to: Puppylove


Your one of the reasons companies outsource.



posted on Jan, 13 2016 @ 11:01 AM
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What I want to know is how they are reading these private emails, and messages. Are they hacking people's accounts or something? If so that get's a lot more than just what's at work.



posted on Jan, 13 2016 @ 11:03 AM
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a reply to: Bluntone22

Companies outsource because they go to wherever they can most easily and cheaply take advantage of people, no other reason. There's always some shmuck willing to sell their soul and slave til they die.



posted on Jan, 13 2016 @ 11:07 AM
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originally posted by: Puppylove
a reply to: queenofswords

I don't have a job that allows for such myself, but well, screw the company. Theft is what corporations do to everyone. They can cry me a river. I have no sympathy for corporations being taken advantage of at this point, what goes around comes around.


Corporations are just like any other business...money in, money out. In between is called management. Scaling this down, what if you had a small business and half your staff spent half (or more) of their time on their phones, chatting on social media, posting on ATS complete with external research, and texting friends?



posted on Jan, 13 2016 @ 11:10 AM
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a reply to: queenofswords

This is talking about people on computers during lulls. Any job worth it's salt doesn't allow cell phones on the floor. Extreme nonsense case is extreme nonsense case. There are jobs where the reason you are there is mostly as a just in case precaution.



posted on Jan, 13 2016 @ 11:13 AM
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a reply to: Puppylove



He argued that his right to a private life had been breached when his employer had read a log of messages on a Yahoo Messenger account he had set up for work, as well as that from a second personal one.


He set up his messenger so that it logged messages to a file on his work computer.

I've had employees do this in the past as well... not too bright to log personal messages on your work computer.



posted on Jan, 13 2016 @ 11:24 AM
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a reply to: sg1642

Orwell? Not at all.

Had an employee once who worked for 2 years. We installed new malware virus software for security and ran a test reporrt We found she has spend 80% of her worktime for 15 months shopping, emailing, taking online college courses, sending out resumes etc....all during company time and all while being paid. When confronted by her theft of work time, she said "So?" Without any remorse. And was fired promptly fired. She immediately tried to file unemployment but lost.

I am ok with my staff doing personal stuff at work during breaks and lunch, so much so, each one has a separate laptop running Linnux for the sole purpose of personal use.

This is excellent news!



posted on Jan, 13 2016 @ 11:32 AM
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originally posted by: Puppylove
What I want to know is how they are reading these private emails, and messages. Are they hacking people's accounts or something? If so that get's a lot more than just what's at work.


No one is hacking anything. The majority of these tracking apps can log everything from the time spent on the internet, sites visited, time spent on social media, messenger apps, email apps, games, etc. The one used at the company I work for can even take screenshots at various time intervals.

Most employee paperwork (at least at jobs I've been at), has disclosures indicating that any use of employer property is subject to monitoring, including computers, phones, email, etc.

Without them, what's to prevent someone from leaking potentially confidential company information? What's to prevent the person from doing or saying something stupid that exposes the company to a lawsuit?



posted on Jan, 13 2016 @ 11:40 AM
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This is probably why it takes ten government bureaucrats to do the work of one. Can you imagine the bloat among government employees!



posted on Jan, 13 2016 @ 11:41 AM
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a reply to: Sublimecraft

Says the guy during business hours........

Fine for you but not your employees?



posted on Jan, 13 2016 @ 11:41 AM
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Looks like Edward Snowden types would be vindicated by this new ruling. Since the government works for the people, we have the right to to examine the personal correspondence of government employees to insure they are doing their jobs properly.



posted on Jan, 13 2016 @ 11:44 AM
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originally posted by: Sublimecraft
a reply to: sg1642

As an employer, let me break it down for you.

I do not pay individuals to engage in personal chat sessions on my dime, and especially on my hardware.

So, even if you are using your personal device, unless it's on your time (lunch breaks etc) then I should have a right to reprimand you, which may include anything from a verbal warning to a sobpoena to release data from your personal device - if that data was transmitted during working hours.

Now, and also, if you engage in rhetoric outside of working hours on social media which has a detrimental effect on my business, then the same rights should apply.

In other words, personal accountability starts with the individual, and his/her ego.


On what grounds do you feel you have a right to your employees personal data (on their personal deceives) simply because the data was created while the employee should have been doing work for you?

I can certainly understand reprimanded and terminations for said employee not conducting your business when you have paid them to do so; but I don’t see the reach that you are entitled to information created when they should have been working for you.

Employment is a contract to buy labor form an individual; if they do not deliver that labor you clearly have recourse to terminate their employment or reprimand them. Employment is not a contract to where you OWN the employee during the hours you are employing them and so you do not have a right to all they may produce during that time.

Same goes for personal conduct outside the time of employment. You could most certainly decided to terminate or reprimand an employee if their personal conduct hurts your business. But once again you do not own any part of your employee and so do not have rights to their personal data outside of the place of employment. The only exception I could think of here is if you could provide evidence that they are steeling your Intellectual Property. Than you could sue them to recover the data.

edit on 13-1-2016 by DanDanDat because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 13 2016 @ 11:45 AM
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I *never* use my company's computer to so much as peek at Facebook. Even if I need to look up an address of a business so I can go there when I get off work, I use my personal device.

I try to reasonably limit my use of my personal device. Sometimes one of my teens or my husband will text me with a question which I must answer right away, and I do. Also, some days a considerable volume of my work involves responding to texts from coworkers which are work related, so yeah, there's that, too.

However, like many people, I work for an employer (small business) which pushes the envelope of what's appropriate/legal. For example, on busy days I often find myself forced to work through my legally mandated ten minute breaks. Some days I have to press my boss for even a lunch break. It's not that he forbids it, it just never occurs to him that I need a break so I have to firmly INFORM him I am taking a break or it won't happen. Therefore if, on a "slow" day (and it's not as if we have a lot of those) I take five extra minutes at my desk to look at Facebook on my personal device or to watch a YouTube video, I don't have an attack of guilt. I just try to be reasonable and fair, and always do my best to work hard (and efficiently) so as to deserve the breaks I DO take. And again, ALL of my activity is on my personal device.

I feel sorry for the guy who thinks that he should have access to his employees' personal device while on company time. If you distrust your employees to that degree maybe you should rethink your hiring practices.
edit on 13-1-2016 by OuttaHere because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 13 2016 @ 11:46 AM
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a reply to: sg1642

I don't see a problem with it. It's their computer and their time. If anything, use your "smart" phone, and not on the company WiFi.

A tip, for those who use "incognito" or "private" mode on a web browser...all that does is keep your computer from keeping the history (sites visited, cookies, etc.) stored on it. It does not keep them from being viewed remotely real-time on another machine on the network, or from being perused later. In other words, if it's on the company network, they can know everything you're using their computer for.



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