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Number of employers monitoring e-mails increases

January 18, 2001

A survey conducted by consultant firm KPMG found that around 20% of employers are now secretly monitoring their employees e-mails without telling them.

This equates to around one in five employers are actually breaking the law by gaining access to their staff e-mails without informing them. In October a new Lawful Business Practices Regulation, which is part of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIP) Act came into force that allows employers the right to eavesdrop on private e-mails without their consent, however, correspondents had to be informed.

The Data Protection Commission warned though that employers should only monitor e-mails when they have reason to believe that they are abusing the system.

The survey conducted by KPMG, KLegal section, also highlighted that the volume of disciplinary and dismissal cases for e-mail or internet abuse had increased, however the majority of dismissals were for downloading pornography, rather than offensive images. Of those 55% of employees were dismissed for viewing pornography and just 20% for sending defamatory e-mails.

Around 200 companies were interviewed, 80% stated that they let their employees know they were being monitored. Only 50% allowed all office-based staff access to e-mail and only 20% had internet access.



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