Electronic mail or e-mail is a great tool being utilized in the workforce, providing efficient and effective communication. Almost 80 percent of organizations use e-mail to transmit information. Naturally, employee monitoring has brought about a debate regarding privacy issues in the workplace. Employers consider e-mail to be company property and thus, appropriate for observation, while employees believe e-mail monitoring is an invasion of their right to privacy.
The issue of E-mail and privacy is very common and controversial in our advanced technological world. The determination of what is ethical or unethical is not simple or straightforward. Employers and employees may have seen the ethical and legal issues associated with E-mail privacy differently. .
E-mail is increasing in popularity in the workplace because it is an efficient, quick method to receive and disseminate information throughout a large business. Although e-mail is growing at such a rapid pace in the workplace, the laws addressing employee privacy rights are not moving at the same pace. Does the employer have the right to monitor its employee's e-mail communications? Since there are no clear consistent laws addressing employee privacy rights, employers are left to their own company policies. .
With all new technology there are both benefits and drawbacks. The benefits are clear. E-mail communication improves productivity in the workplace because of the speed and responsiveness with which communication can take place. Instead of trying to contact someone by phone, or within one's own company having to walk to their office or initiate memos back and forth, workers can now simply communicate their ideas through e-mail quickly and efficiently. The major drawback of this improved technology is that employees do not have the assurance of privacy. There is nothing to prevent an employer from looking at intercompany e-mail communications and even using this information against an employee at a later time.