Essay On Employee Use Of Internet At Work: Policy Proposals
Employee Use of Internet At Work: Policy Proposals
Ever since the Internet became a widely used tool that creates multiple layers of linkages in todays modern living, has the world ever seen changes that encompass all the social and economic aspects of the world. The Internet is so powerful that it can be used for many different and varied applications. The Internet can create online communities. The Internet can create professional and social networking sites. The Internet can help people communicate better and it can also help people interact faster and more effectively. The Internet transcends countries, cultures, values, and socio-economic classes and brings people to a level wherein their values; ideologies, principles and opinions are brought out for discussion with other people that share similar opinions or values .
The Internet has created a lot of positive impact in today’s business landscape. The Internet is responsible for the significant increase in productivity and in efficiency of people, business systems and environments. Businesses are now capable of linking with other business entities and creating additional value between them that has created unprecedented levels of profitability and ultimately, business success. One good example of how businesses are benefiting from the widespread use of the Internet is the pace by which human talent is acquired. The identification and selection of human talent is now simpler if not more effective, thanks to potent tools that locate the right kind of person for the right kind of job. This makes even the most challenging aspects of talent acquisition seem manageable.
Another good example is the flow of information within the business place. For example, managers are now capable of locating, receiving, analyzing, digesting and utilizing information from other parts of the world very rapidly. The speed by which information is received and utilized has given many corporations the added push to compete and stand out. Information, being more valuable now more than ever in reaching critical decisions, now dictates whether a corporation or industry segment will progress or cease to exist.
These advantages do not come without a price. For many people, the price is dangerously steep. The Internet, for all its benefits and advances, has created an avenue wherein the rights of people can be violated. The Internet has also created endangerment for businesses, wherein the primary and most obvious result is the loss of productivity, but ultimately undermines the foundations of business culture and sustainability.
This Memorandum is therefore issued in response to the request of the Chief Executive Officer of the corporation. The purpose of this document is to provide a step-by-step explanation of the value of understanding how Internet usage can create dangerous situations for the company. Based on the instruction of the Chief Executive Officer, the purpose of this document is to explain and address the following statements or questions:
What are the possible torts that employees may commit as they utilize the Internet at work?
What are the possible crimes that employees may commit as they utilize the Internet at work?
What are the possible liabilities that the business organization and the employee may be faced with as torts are commissioned or crimes are committed as employees utilize the Internet at work?
What are the violations of the duty of care or duty of loyalty that employees commit when social media sites are accessed during working hours?;
What are the privacy rights or concerns that employees may have regarding the use of the internet during working hours?; and
What are the appropriate laws that are needed to protect employees and/or employers in relation to Internet use at the workplace?
Question 1: What is the Possible Liability for Employee-Committed Torts?
The company is exposed to possible liabilities arising from situations wherein employees may commit torts when then use the Internet at work. A “tort” is simple defined as a Civil Wrong. A tort is not permissible because it is an act that causes another person to suffer or to receive something harmful to his person. If the civil wrong continues to happen, then there is legal liability against the person that has committed the tort (otherwise known as “tortfeasor”). When a victim of a civil wrong seeks justice for the tort that was committed to the person, that person may recover their losses by way of damages paid by the tortfeasor. In common judicial lingo, this is achieved through the process of submitting “law suits” and when legal action is taken, then the tort is righted. This normally happens when the tort is proven and recognized by the judicial courts as a civil wrong.
This process of law suits and judicial proceedings can happen in and outside the workplace. For the corporation, it is a dangerous situation when it puts employees in an environment that would allow them to commit civil wrongs. One good example of a tort being committed in the workplace is the when employees go on the Internet and access social networking sites such as Facebook or other dating sites. When an employee accesses these social networking sites, the employee may cause action that will harass or cause defamation to another person. This problem increases in complexity when the civil wrong that is committed is targeted to someone that is connected explicitly to the organization. These persons include customers, employees, suppliers, affiliates and even competitors of the corporation.
Question 2: What Computer Crimes Can Employees Possibly Commit?
The biggest fault that employees commit is doing something without realizing that they are already committing computer crimes. Most employees are susceptible to this kind of fault. However, the fault is not entirely because employees do not know about committing crimes. Often, the fault is due to how computer crimes are defined. There are many different definitions and even more varied types of interpretation of what a computer crime is. While it is obvious that there are many acts that are considered as criminal, there are also acts that may be or maybe criminal in nature and it takes different arbitration of the law to determine its criminal nature. Obvious criminal activities include the use of the Internet or on-line resources for child pornography. Hacking someone’s identity is obviously criminal, and so is using someone else’s identity for financial gains. The very nature of these acts makes them illegal. They are also punishable regardless of country, state or political affiliation. Acts that are vague in nature include broad emails that send out a lot of marketing information to a lot of different people. These emails are called “spam” and can be illegal or legal, depending on how legality of use is determined. Another possible computer crime is client profiling which happens when one accesses social networking sites. These sites acquire data from the users, which can then be sold to companies that can target their products and services to these users. The acquisition of information from users could be illegal or legal, depending on the legality definition of it.
According to Rasch, the Internet has changed the qualitative aspect of how people now communicate . Because of the changed qualitative aspect of communication, we now have to adopt the legality of the framework that relates to communication through the Internet. The Internet changes at a rapid pace and the legality of how communication is framed should also change at the same pace. This means that the definition of Internet crimes must also evolve, making the dispensation of law and justice more accurate and relevant. In the company, it is important that policies that geared towards defining certain actions as criminal be instituted immediately. The company must make sure that it recognizes actions that criminal in nature but may be considered non-criminal as well since certain laws have not yet categorically defined them as such. This means that the company should always be aware that criminal actions may be on-going and that preventive solutions are best instituted now before anything untoward happens in the future.
Question 3: What are the Company’s Liabilities?
Studies indicate that there is no exception to how corporations can become susceptible to computer crimes. In today’s world, even large corporations and business organizations are affected by computer crimes. The culprit of these computer crimes can be employees and company staff but can also be external forces. Take for example the very recent attack on the Sony group. Hackers have attacked Sony and investigators believe that these outside forces were responding to the Sony’s controversial film about North Korea. However, it isn’t just Sony or their controversial decisions that have been the subject of computer crimes recently. Companies such as AON, MasterCard, the CitiGroup and even the computer company Dell were at one point, attacked by criminal forces. The results of these malicious computer activities were massive damages to these companies in the form of financial and reputational damages. There had been significant amounts of litigation and millions of dollars have been spent on corrective actions. These companies were held liable for breaches of privacy due to the fact that these companies cannot keep the information they hold secured. As a result, the company had to spend more to save its reputation and fortify its systems such that it could retain the trust and confidence of its customers and shareholders.
Question 4: What are the Violations of the Duty of Care or Duty of Loyalty?
The violations of the duty of care and the duty of loyalty are common concepts in modern law and are lined to the business judgment rule. The Business Judgment Rule is the modern day basis for business organization conduct . Both concepts relate to self-interest and in the modern business landscape, both duties are ruled appropriately. For example, when a person violates duties it is clearly due to gross negligence. Common law has therefore prohibited actions of individuals that would clearly result to personal gains, which is often financial in nature.
Duty of care or duty of loyalty is violated when employees access social networking sites. Employees violate these duties because they are using the resources of the company for personal gains and do not contribute to the company’s productivity. Employees are clearly not realizing that it is already a violation they are committing. While there is no clear financial malice in this situation, the financial implications are still significant. Committing actions like this causes the company to lose productivity and spend for resources that could be utilized more effectively.
Question 5: What are Privacy Rights and Privacy Laws in the United States?
The rights of employees to privacy include their right to keep their possession private. These include emails and personal calls. These rights can be limited by the company if and when the employee uses the company’s email or telephone system for their personal use .
Employers do not have the right to examine phones or email of employees unless employees willingly allow them to do so. Normally this action only happens if the company gets very concerned about how employees access sensitive company related information and how these employees are using them.
A good example of this is how employers select their employees. If employers select their employees outside the basis of their capabilities, then the company may be liable for breaches of privacy. The company can help ensure that instituting a limited right to privacy in aid of securing the company’s information and sensitive business systems protects the company’s information. In this way, both the employee and employer are protected from breaching privacy policies.
Another way of ensuring that privacy is not breached is to understand the laws that are in place that relates to Internet usage in the workplace. It is important to note that in the United States, the laws prevent the civil wrong of invading the privacy of a person or entity. It is illegal to disclose any personal information about the person and is founded on the right of a human being to be alone. The basic law of the United States explains this and is in fact part of the right to freedom of speech (Fourth Amendment), the right to form into groups (First Amendment) and the right to due legal process (Fourteenth Amendment) . There are many laws that provide employee privacy and government and employer rights on accessing employee information and these are applied on a state-by-state basis. However, all these laws indicate that if an employee is found in violation, he or she will receive sanctions imposed by either the employer or the Federal government or both .
The final recommendation for the company is two-fold. The first is to establish a clear understanding of the privacy laws in the State and the applicable laws that protect the employer and the company with respect to the job that the employee is tasked to do. This means that the company must be aware of what is considered as legal and illegal in the company’s operating area and then to draw up the correct policies that would enable the employees to operate at their optimum levels. The second policy recommendation is for the company to anticipate any violations and craft its security measures and information dissemination systems to ensure that possible violations are avoided.
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Rasch, M. D. (1999). Criminal Law and The Internet. Retrieved March 25, 2015, from MIT: http://groups.csail.mit.edu/mac/classes/6.805/articles/computer-crime/rasch-criminal-law.html
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