The case of a company sentenced to pay a fine to an employee has made headlines on several Italian online newspapers today. The firm was monitoring the guy’s online activity during office hours, gathering information that was later used against him in a disciplinary case.
The Italian authority for privacy protection has ruled that companies can not spy on their employees’ computers during office hours. Of course, this does not certainly mean that from now on you will be able to spend your office days chatting with your friends on Facebook or reading the latest sports news, but at least it gives a direction to the long-running argument between companies and workers’ unions.
In this specific case, the firm was keeping their employees’ online activity under control thanks to the installation of a small piece of software, which stores all surf-related information, while the user is unaware. Use of this software violates the Italian Statute of Workers, as well as other regulations in this matter, therefore the company was sued and fined.
The problem of monitoring Internet access of employees during office hours is particularly relevant in the US, where there are even some software houses offering courses and tools to teach companies how to spy on their employees without breaking the law, and of course while going unnoticed.
So, next time you will think about checking your mail on Facebook or uploading a photo on Flickr while you are in the office and the boss is busy or absent, you can do it as you like… or not?