In information technology (IT), a network design plays important role in determining the success of information transmission. Due to the importance of network design, Dennis (2002) suggests three basic network designs that any network designers should take into account; they are need analysis, technology design, and cost assessment.
Moreover, the critical issue that network architecture must face is about the security issue. This is because hackers may steal information that is located in a server. For the reason, when designing a network, the consideration of secured network becomes critical issue.
Figure 1 shows an example of secured network that composes of two slim layers of protection. The use of firewalls in this design becomes the primary source of protection for a network.
Figure 1 A more detailed Architecture of Secured E-Commerce Site
Source: RSM McGladrey, Inc. (2006). The Ultra-Secure Network Architecture. Retrieved September 10, 2007 from http://www.rsmmcgladrey.com/Resource_Center/Consulting/Ultra_secure_network_arch.html
Concerning the data and information protection, this paper will discuss about the ethical implications of monitoring email usage and internet browsing at works. The situation occurs since employers have the rights to control their facilities but in the other hand it impinges someone privacy.
2. Monitoring of Employees’ emails and Internet browsing: Ethical or Unethical Conduct
2.1. Facts about Employees’ Monitoring
In general, everyone has a secret just like companies does. While companies’ secrets might come in the form of detailed specification of a manufacturing process, lists of customer names and addresses, and secret formula like the recipe of Coca Cola; people have invaluable secret information: their personal data.
Despite the development of computer and telecommunication technology such as e-mail and the Internet, such technology also has potential to promote new types of employment law claims, including e-harassment.
The situation exists when some employers decide to monitor the use of e-mail (electronic mails) and the Internet to limit their exposure to discrimination and/or harassment claims (Towns, 2002).
This decision is important since all employers must be concerned about employees sharing the company’s trade secrets and other proprietary or confidential information with competitors.
2.2. Employees’ Monitoring: Ethical or Unethical
Although monitoring emails or internet browsing may be justified from employers’ point of view, still such act may put employers to potential lawsuits, which in turn will cause a declining morale among employees who resent being told that they cannot use e-mail for personal messages and that their every move is being monitored.
Regardless the risks, many employers insist that there is a need to monitor employees’ computer usage. According to a 2001 survey by the American Management Association, nearly 80 percent of employers engage in electronic monitoring of employees’ work-related communications and activities, including monitoring employees’ e-mail or Internet usage, videotaping the worksite, or recording employee telephone calls (Towns, 2002).
Most employees who have sued their employers for monitoring have done so under state invasion of privacy actions since their e-mail was protected by a personal password. However, of the courts that have addressed this issue, this argument has been unsuccessful (Towns, 2002).
The case of Bourke v. Nissan Motor Corp., was good example how employees defeated in privacy issues. The case begins when Bonita Bourke was monitored and found out to send a personal e-mail of a sexual nature. Nissan gave the employees who had sent the personal messages written warnings for violating the company’s e-mail policy.
The disciplined employees sued Nissan for invasion of privacy. However, a California court in 1993 held that this was not an objectively reasonable expectation of privacy because the plaintiffs knew that e-mail messages were read from time to time by individuals other than the intended recipient (Towns, 2002).
Therefore, monitoring employees’ e-mail and work-related communications and activities are not violating the employees’ privacy as long as it is stated in pre-employment contracts or in any other company’s ethic codes. For this reason, it is fair if employees use their own communication gadgets when talking about personal matters.
Dennis, A. (2002). Networking in the Internet age. John Wiley & Sons, New York
Privacy Rights. (2004). Employee Monitoring: Is There Privacy in the Workplace? Retrieved September 10, 2007 from http://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs7-work.htm
Towns, Douglas M. (2002). Legal Issues Involved in Monitoring Employees’ Internet and E-Mail Usage. Retrieved September 10, 2007 from http://www.gigalaw.com/articles/2002-all/towns-2002-01-all.html