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More Than Ever, Companies Are Blocking Web Sites From Employees

May 20, 2005
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Sixty-five percent of companies block connections to inappropriate Web sites, a 27 percent increase since 2001.

The American Management Association and the ePolicy Institute surveyed 526 companies on their technology policies and procedures. They also found that 26 percent of companies have fired workers for misusing the Internet, and 25 percent for misusing e-mail.

The AMA says that employers are monitoring the computers in their workplaces using a variety of methods. About 55 percent say they retain and review e-mail messages, for example. Fewer employers track employee keystrokes.

Not all of these companies implement these practices on an ongoing basis. Often, they do spot checks or monitor technology in response to a problem, such as an overload in a company’s computer system.

In fact, Richard Eaton, founder of TrueActive, monitoring software recently purchased by the Richland, Washington-based e-learning company Vivid Learning Systems, says he originally wrote his program to track time for billing purposes. Even now, although the program is often used to monitor employees’ computers, Eaton says that it’s not always done to actively “catch people” doing something wrong.

TrueActive, he says, is often used by companies just to have an audit trail, so that if there’s a problem such as a confidential document that is leaked, companies can figure out what happened. Also, he says, when companies do monitor whether inappropriate Web sites are being accessed, it’s often in the aggregate, rather than by individual employee.

Charles Davis, chief technical officer at Vivid Learning Systems, predicts that monitoring software will increasingly be used as part of what he calls “corporate performance management.” Employers will want to know how effective and efficient employees are and use software as a diagnostic tool to improve efficiency. If, for example, employees are spending a lot of time on a given word processing program, a business could design training around that program.

More about technology and computer monitoring is available online, such as information about blogs; communicating with employees by e-mail; wireless communication; retaining and deleting e-mail; copying software; home software use; Internet use; and more.
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