As Internet use pervades our personal and professional lives, organizations have become increasingly concerned about employee use of the Internet for personal reasons while at work. This has prompted the restriction of the Internet or the limitation of the Internet during work hours. Monitoring of employee Internet and email is another result of this trend. Legitimate business functions such as employee performance appraisal and progress toward goals are served by monitoring. However, poorly designed and communicated monitoring practices can be negative and have perverse effects on employee morale and productivity. Monitoring of employees erodes trust and may be considered an invasion of privacy. In this paper ethical issues surrounding Internet monitoring are explored from two perspectives: university and business use. Survey results from the university perspective are compared with computer monitoring in a business setting. Students feel an invasion of privacy when a university setting monitors computer use, however they consider the practice of monitoring the workplace an acceptable invasion of privacy. Reasons cited for unethical monitoring at a university or business setting include: payment for the computer, personal property and possession by the student, and limitations of personal freedom, rights, trust and privacy. Reasons cited for the ethical use of monitoring include: academic use of the Internet, workplace requirements and payment for work, discouragement of hate crimes and terrorism, and university or employer property.
Gumbus, Andra, Grodzinsky, Frances. "Ethical and Managerial Implications of Internet Monitoring." Emerging Business Theories for Educators and Practitioners. Eds. Maureen L. Mackenzie and Stuart L. Rosenberg. Cambridge Scholars Press, 2008.