Can an employer monitor his employees?

The monitoring of employees by employers is a matter of rigour. Currently, the jurisprudence seems to be in favour of considering that there is a violation of the privacy of the worker but he was informed about how to use it, for example, the Internet in the workplace. Using software for tracking employees, such as Monitask, is welcomed now and employers are choosing this method to track the workflow.

However, in the event that a worker uses the Internet for private purposes having been specifically warned about the prohibition to do so, it will not constitute a violation of the privacy of the worker, since it is not considered an illegal interference when he has been expressly informed that there will be a control to guarantee the effective use of computer tools.

What legal consequences does it imply for the company an improper use of the Internet by workers? Among the possible ones, we will analyse four fundamental assumptions:

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  • Access to inappropriate web pages – Improper browsing by the employee can lead to access to pages with malware, compromising company information. The crime is made when you send malicious software to access information lacking the corresponding authorization (that is, the confidential information of the company).
  • Use of electronic mail without due diligence – The incorrect use of electronic mail without taking into account the necessary security measures can lead to employees involuntarily sending company information to web pages that mimic being legitimate when in fact they are not, for the purpose of fraud ( “Phishing”, “spoofing” or “pharming”).
  • Inappropriate use of instant messaging – An inadequate and uncontrolled use of this type of services can result in a transfer of data of the employees of the company, eluding the internal controls over data protection.
  • Use of Peer to Peer applications without proper control – These applications could involve an illegal exchange of works protected by copyright that can cause legal liability for companies, and even more if the illegally obtained files are stored on corporate hard drives. In addition, it is possible for confidential business files to be found in the exchange “folder” where they may be available for others to view and download. If this happens, the customer data and corporate information will be transmitted to third parties, giving rise to legal problems of various kinds.
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In conclusion, if the employer does not implement the necessary controls for the monitoring of its employees, it can undoubtedly be harmed not only by the loss of efficiency of its employees but also by legal responsibilities derived from their actions.

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