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6 Do’s and Don’ts of Internet Monitoring you Need to Know
Employers have a right to monitor employee internet activities such as web browsing and emails, as long as they do it within the law.
Internet monitoring comes with several benefits. For starters, it increases employee productivity because users know they are being monitored and this forces them to focus on their job more. It also protects employees from visiting harmful websites or leaking secret company data.
Even so, there are downsides to monitoring employees. For example, it’s not uncommon for mistrust to develop between employers and employees who may misinterpret the employer’s actions as spying on them.
The company could also be in trouble with the law if an employee’s sexual orientation, religious preferences, or medical records are accessed by others. In that case, an employee could file a lawsuit against the company for exposing their personal information.
With these issues at stake, employers need guidance on how to monitor their employees’ internet usage. Which monitoring practices should they engage in? And which ones will put them in trouble with employees or the law? Let’s find out more in this quick guide!
Do set written policies
Create a company policy that states the rules of internet usage. There should be rules for acceptable internet use like email, blogging, instant messaging, web surfing, and downloading software.
Reassure your team that your intention is not to find out about their personal lives, but to maintain productivity and compliance in the workplace.
Remind them to use their personal phones and not company computers, in order to protect their private information. In addition, it is also to maximize the usage of company properties for the appropriate and rightful purposes.
Let the policy state how internet monitoring will be carried out, which methods will be used to secure data, and action to be taken against individuals who violate the policy.
Do explain to your team
Explain verbally to your employees the risks your company may be exposed to due to improper internet usage. Tell them there will be certain limits on their privacy due to monitoring.
While at it, be transparent by explaining everything in detail, otherwise, you might run into legal issues if your employees are in trouble and it is discovered that you never informed them of the consequences. Transparency through effective communication is the key.
Informing your team is also a good way to deter unproductive behavior because employees know they are constantly being monitored.
Do use reputable monitoring tools
The market is saturated with monitoring tools that can make the process of internet monitoring easier. You don’t have to waste time physically monitoring them or risk getting sued for using a tool that exposes sensitive data that it collects.
Use a monitoring tool that will alert you when someone has access to sensitive data. This will minimize friction in the workplace due to improper handling of employee personal information.
Filter or completely block gambling sites, porn sites, hate sites, and other sites that could put you in trouble with the law if discovered.
Don’t be too invasive
There are apps that employees consider invasive, which track their every activity on the computer such as every keystroke, website visit, or login.
It is understandable that you need to monitor their internet usage and block certain websites, but do not be too intrusive by tracking every single movement on their computer. Using such apps will likely cause privacy issues if an employee’s personal details are discovered.
To avoid costly repercussions, make your employees understand that the computers that they use belong to the company but let them have their own passwords.
Don’t beat around the bush
Be extremely clear about the kind of activities allowed on your company’s computers. Activities such as sending hate messages and other harassing content should not be tolerated.
Others that you ought to ban include uploading malicious files, downloading pirated music, or hacking into websites using company computers.
Once you have made this clear, now go ahead and state the corresponding punishment, whether by the company or by law, if in violation of the rules.
Don’t be ignorant of virus threats
As much as you try to keep guidelines in place that prohibit uploading or downloading malicious files, be aware that this measure alone cannot protect your company data from security threats.
There will occasionally be employees who will still indulge in activities that threaten your company’s data. Use antivirus protection to keep your computers safe from common threats.
Internet monitoring is generally allowed as it helps to protect a company from data breaches or time wastage on unproductive activities. However, being too invasive of employee privacy rights will not go well with employees.
One of the first measures you should put in place is to ensure that each person’s sensitive data is protected from other employees. Thereafter, set written policies and explain to your employees that internet monitoring is for their benefit and the company. This way, they will stop being suspicious of your motives and cooperate with you.
Are you implementing internet monitoring in your company? What has your experience been like? Let us know in the comments below.