Courts OK Workplace Computer Monitoring
The case involved an employee of Frontline Processing in Bozeman, Montana. The now former employee, Jeffrey Ziegler, director of operations, was arrested for downloading child pornography at work.
When the company turned the computer over to police, Ziegler contested that the Fourth Amendment, which guards against unreasonable searches and seizures, had been violated. Ziegler tried to prove that a search of his private office and computer was unconstitutional.
But judges said that employees can't expect any protection when a company has clearly communicated a policy of total access to hard drives and memory. So even though Ziegler's computer was password protected in a locked office, the court ruled that he couldn't expect privacy - especially since his company had an entire department dedicated to monitor employee Internet use.
The court did note earlier cases that established employees could expect some degree of privacy in their offices. But since Frontline Processing told employees in training sessions and in the company manual that computers weren't for personal use, the court ruled that Frontline had the right to search the office and computer.
This case shows that monitoring workplace computers has become standard practice. Employee monitoring software combined with a clearly communicated computer policy is the best protection for employers. Employee monitoring software like WebWatcher can take screenshots and record everything that happens on employee computers so that companies can protect their assets.
Labels: Monitor Employee Computers