back to article Council of Europe: Don't spy on your staff, you naughty employers

Private electronic communications at work should not be monitored under any circumstances says the Council of Europe (not-an-EU-institution™). The organisation, which has 47 signatory countries, issued its latest recommendation on privacy at work to update its previous advice, which dates from 1989. You can't accuse them of …

  1. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Was this the same council that was telling us we have to monitor all of our students for "signs of radicalization"?

  2. Not Fred31

    Toothless...

    As CoE recommendations are formally adopted by all 46 Ministers from the member states, the text would be very meaningful before a national court. It isn't some random group of bureaucrats sitting in a room somewhere, it is the member states, at ministerial level, signing up to the principles.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Just a little point.

    “Private electronic communications at work should not be monitored under any circumstances,”

    How do you know if an email is Business or Personal without reading it?

    Just saying.

    1. MrXavia

      Re: Just a little point.

      Ban usage of work email for private communication?

      Who does use their work email for private communications?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just a little point.

      My view on that, is you shouldn't put anything in an email sent via your work email that you wouldn't want your boss to read.

      Personal use of email at work shouldn't contain "personal" or potentially embarrassing information. If you're dumb enough to send anything of that nature via your work email, then tough.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Just a little point.

      You should never use business email for personal reason. If you do so, that is a business email anyway. It should be the employee responsibility to use the proper channel of each type of communication, and it can be dangerous and damage the company using personal services to transmit or receive business data.

      1. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

        Re: Just a little point.

        You should never use business email. Period.

        - Secretary Clinton.

    4. veti Silver badge

      Re: Just a little point.

      It doesn't say "personal", it says "private". Totally different thing. Your business email is still private, unless you cc. it to other people.

      Of course, it's entirely likely that anything you put in a business email will be forwarded and cc'd to an unpredictable number of other people without any further action or consent from you - that's to be expected, and if you suffer any harm from that, you were asking for it. But that's not the same as your employer actually clocking the number of messages and megabytes you send, to whom, when, etc.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    This is a bit on the wishy washy side.

    OK so if I work for MI6, no issue with sending emails to my mates?

    If I work in the banking sector,best make sure no phone calls are monitored or recorded, just in case?

    It's OK for soldiers on Active duty to drop onto Facebook and "check In"

    Hmmmm.

    In reality, you should say, give people a bit of slack where appropriate and give them the means to do this stuff in their own free time?

  5. jake Silver badge

    Uh ... duh.

    "if bosses want to stop their employees using Facebook or other time-wasters, they should employ preventive measures such as filters to block sites, rather than monitor their use."

    What kind of 1d10t company allows employees to waste time on so-called "social" media in the first place? I mean, seriously ... "We have no need for you to actually work for our company here, all you have to do is dick around online, and we'll pay you".

    Do the shareholders understand what this means? Serious question ...

    The mind absolutely boggles.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Uh ... duh.

      All those business that don't have a clue about security (about 95%, it looks), and don't want to employ any kind of active control on what transits on their networks, because they would need to pay someone knowledgeable to configure and maintain any kind of control.

      Then there are the sysdmins and other "privileged" users that for some misteriours reasons are awalys exempt from policies even when they exist and valid for everybody else.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Uh ... duh.

      Many companies allow personal use of the internet during lunch breaks etc.

      However, many will also ban the use of social network sites because of the security risk they pose.

    3. Aggrajag

      Re: Uh ... duh.

      Unfortunately some companies have to use Facebook for legitimate reasons - marketing, information, customer services etc.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Uh ... duh.

        And if they started out with a no-Facebook policy and installed one of the simpler firewall/blocking products on the market, then decided they did need to enable it for some users and that meant unblocking it for all...

        Not saying this has happened, anywhere I've worked, nosireee.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Happy

      Re: Uh ... duh.

      And here you are posting on forums.

    5. veti Silver badge

      Re: Uh ... duh.

      Hey, it's your choice. You want me to bugger off for an hour to get my personal business done outside the office, or spend 10 minutes at my desk to accomplish the same thing before getting back to work?

      Sensible companies don't care how much you "dick around online", so long as you get your work done to a satisfactory standard and timescale.

  6. LucreLout Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Monitor this....

    Where I work, my door entry card monitors when I arrive and leave the office and which floors and rooms I visit while I’m there. Covertly, it can record my movements around the building via the RFID chip, including length of stay in the gents.

    The internal CCTV cameras monitor what I’m doing while I move about.

    The print queues are logged to see what I printed and when, web and email are all monitored, logged, analysed and profiled.

    My phone is recorded.

    My work is monitored via check-in reports to the version control system, JIRA, and other tool sets. I also have to complete timesheets.

    I accept all of the above in return for the salary I am paid. Freedom to leave and choose another employer, or set up my own business and employ myself on my own terms give me the strongest hand when choosing a level of monitoring I’m willing to accept in return for the salary and conditions on offer. Most of the monitoring is regulatory rather than employers choice, and my boss definitely has better things to do than fret over how long I spend filing paperwork in the gents.

    All in all, this sounds like another quango we could cut, no?

    1. graeme leggett

      Re: Monitor this....

      With your workplace, it sounds like everything are subject to in the way of monitoring is clearly understood and openly acknowledged. You know your position and accept that.

      In other places, there are employees unaware (possibly blissfully so) that management look through their emails, count how many times they take toilet breaks, what hours they arrive and depart and those who have a suspicion that it goes on but have not been told that it does. Those are the ones that need a bit of protection.

    2. DNTP

      Re: Monitor this....

      See, this works until one Saturday you're at a political rally, or a highly progressive nightclub, or taking your child to the zoo for his birthday when you've called in sick, and you've brought your phone with you (as required by management) and it's telling everyone in management where you are, or even covertly recording audio. And if even one senior manager has a problem with anything, he makes enough of a stink that suddenly you're out on your ass, blacklisted in your field, and it's employment-at-will so there's nothing to do. Of course it doesn't happen to YOU you but in one sense you're legitimizing a process that is highly open to abuse and coercion.

      So how much is that worth? Give us a number. What do they have to pay you to be a shill for that kind of system?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Monitor this....

        If you take your child to the zoo or any of the other activities mention when you've called in sick, then you're an idiot...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Monitor this....

          If you take your child to the zoo or any of the other activities mention when you've called in sick, then you're an idiot...

          And most likely to be unemployed shorty afterwards.

      2. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: Monitor this....

        this works until one Saturday you're at a political rally

        My employer is fine with that so long as I'm not due to be working. The company is apolitical but provided I carry out no politicking during office hours or on work premesis, they accept that having a vote gives me a stake in democracy and I may wish to express that supporting a party of my choice.

        a highly progressive nightclub

        I'll bet the last highly progressive nightclub I was in would be considerably more tame than the last one my boss attended. He simply wouldn't care... it's not relevant to my role.

        taking your child to the zoo for his birthday when you've called in sick

        People that throw sickies deserve the sack. I have zero problem with this.

        if even one senior manager has a problem with anything, he makes enough of a stink that suddenly you're out on your ass, blacklisted in your field

        I highly doubt it. Blacklisting me wouldn't be worth the time or trouble, were it even possible. I've been a manager previously and simply could not have cared less what my line reports got up to out of hours, who with, why, or what they were wearing when they did it provided they perform the role required of them without violating any of the employers policies.

        So how much is that worth? Give us a number. What do they have to pay you to be a shill for that kind of system?

        Really? Are you 12? Oh shit. School holidays. I see.

        Ok, well if anyones interested I can be your retained shill under the monitoring I described for just £85k per year basic salary plus bonus plus benefits. You'll have to put up with my occasional slacking off and posting on El Reg though. Oh, and I don't generally do weekends or on call.... that'll cost more. So will wearing a tie, but I'll happily avoid nighclubs free of charge (I'm too old, too fat, and too happily married for that sort of guff now).

  7. Steve 114
    Thumb Up

    Pointless prattle

    So-called 'Council of Europe', and the word 'barking'. Having seen some of its other irrational opinions, I'd agree.

  8. Rogue_Tr00per

    Define 'personal'

    This would be interesting if it wasn't so obvious that the "private communication" in question was probably that of the aforementioned 47 Councillors.

    I'd hazard this has less to do with protecting citizens right to a private life and more to do with the Council members just found out their email gets archived; and would rather it wasn't.

    Blanket changes across a continent probably seemed like the best way to resolve their problem... instead of has has already been suggested, just not emailing people they shouldn't about topics they probably shouldn't be discussing.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Define 'personal'

      http://www.coe.int/en/web/about-us/structure

      Just saying...

  9. Roj Blake Silver badge

    Demarkation

    Clearly employers shouldn't be monitoring private communications - that's GCHQ's job.

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