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Australian Workers May Get Privacy Boost

David Utter
Expert Author
Published: 2005-05-04

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A bill introduced in New South Wales would ban employers from snooping into employee e-mail messages without prior warning.

The story will seem astonishing to American businesses, who have made the relentless tracking and prying of employee e-mail and other Internet communication a de facto workplace condition.

But a new act called the Workplace Surveillance Bill would limit Australian concerns to snooping only when they have informed employees such oversight could take place.

"We don't tolerate employers unlawfully placing cameras in change rooms and toilets. Likewise, we should not tolerate unscrupulous employers snooping into the private e-mails of workers," said the state's Attorney General, Bob Debus.

While organizations like the Australian Workers Union see this as a praiseworthy measure, American workers will likely yawn instead.

Many companies in the US make it clear in employee handbooks and computer login messages that their activities can and will be monitored. The practice has become so widespread that it is probably ingrained into most office workers.

Some businesses go farther than delving into Internet communications, by adding video cameras to offices that are trained on the workers rather than entryways or parking lots.

Phone calls get recorded routinely, with computer telephony integration making it easy to retain and sift through thousands of calls.

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About the Author:
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.

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