Monday, December 04, 2006

Big Brother in the office

It's old news, but the online ABC News site has an article about the monitoring of computer activity at the workplace. It's done up in a Q&A format and makes for enlightening reading. The Q&A that caught my eye:

Question: Do I have any rights? Can I go to my employer and say enough is enough, your spying is crossing the line?

Answer: No — you're using the company computer and it's company property. Your company has the right to monitor that computer and determine the usage of that property.

While scary and not a little counterintuitive, the above stance makes eminent sense from any boss's point of view. If I were a boss, I'd be concerned about my workers' productivity. If I had a suspicion that some workers were significantly less productive than others, I'd want to figure out why those employees were slacking. Obviously, I wouldn't want to accuse those employees wrongly, which makes monitoring them an option, because it's a way to gather evidence and build a case.

However, as someone who's never been in a managerial position but who has been an office prole before, I must say I feel uncomfortable with the frank admission that Big Brother Is Watching You. I consider myself a decent worker, but I'm also a human being, and I do want to have the chance to vent quietly during office hours by communicating with friends and family, as needed. I don't want that sort of activity counted against me. Worker efficiency includes the occasional vent. Or laugh.

Are we all being driven towards Unipeak?

On a serious note, I think that all employees would do well to get in good with the relevant IT personnel. These people are the gatekeepers and watchmen of the company, and in my experience they're lenient by nature, because they themselves like to fart around online. Don't piss the IT folks off, or you may find yourself the object of some serious data collection.

I only recently (i.e., in the past several months) became aware of who the resident Smoo IT guy was. I assume he knows-- or can tap into-- everything we lowly teachers do online. I have blogged from the office on many occasions (I'm doing it right now!), and my coworkers are aware of my blog; so far, there's been no trouble, perhaps because everything I do is in English, and because my blog simply isn't big enough to attract too much attention.

Still-- gotta watch out for Big Brother. He's openly watching you.


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