The Inquirer-Home

Getting fired for using the internet becomes commonplace

Big Brother bosses easily riled
Mon Mar 03 2008, 10:42

YANK WORKERS ARE being sacked left, right and centre for gawping at what bosses regard as "inappropriate material" online.

A survey of 304 US companies by the American Management Association (AMA) and The ePolicy Institute, reckons that over a quarter of bosses have sacked workers for misappropriate e-mail usage and a third have dismissed employees for wasting valuable time on the Internet whilst on the job. The study claims that most employees fired for Internet abuse were logging onto porn or other highly inappropriate NSFW content.

What was deeply disturbing about the survey's results, however, was the fact that it wasn't just lusty porn seekers who found themselves in deep trouble with the boss, an astounding 34 per cent of managers admitted to letting workers go for "disproportionate personal use" of the Internet.

A further look at the results of the study shows that 64 per cent of firings based on email misuse were down to violation of company policy whilst 62 per cent of managers said they sacked employees for using inappropriate or bad language in their emails. 22 per cent claimed workers were kicked out for contravening confidentiality clauses in e-mails sent.

The study also revealed the terrifying and paranoia inducing fact that 45 per cent of the employers surveyed owned up to tracking the content, keystrokes and time spent at the keyboard of their employees. 12 per cent said they kept an eye on blogs to track disclosures and leaks about the company and 10 per cent said they supervised the main social-notworking sites. Another 43 per cent said they kept and went through employee computer files.

66 per cent of the 304 companies surveyed said they monitored the websites their employees visited, whilst 65 per cent used various kinds of web nanny software to block undesirable content. 18 per cent even fessed up to blocking specific blog url's. So, why the iron fist? Well, it probably has something to do with the fact that 24 per cent of businesses in the study had at some point had their e-mail subpoenaed by lawcourts whilst another 15 per cent had faced actual lawsuits based on employee e-mails.

Most employees being watched by big brother bosses, however, have been warned that they could be spied on. According to the survey, 83 per cent of nosey bosses tell employees they're monitoring content, keystrokes and keyboard time, whilst 84 per cent disclose to workers that they check up on computer activity and 71 per cent let workers know that their email is being monitored. The problem is, 70 per cent of employers do this via employee handbooks which almost no one reads.

But although the AMA doesn't seem to hold employees in high esteem when it comes to their internet habits, Manny Avramidis, a senior vice president at the AMA, told the Wall Street Journal that it was only "the folks who go overboard who get in trouble".

He explained that certain things like emailing your kids to see if they got home from school safely, or ordering flowers online on Valentines day were acceptable. But dribbling over ladies in lingerie is going to far. µ


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