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Employee Workplace Privacy Rights

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Questions:

1.Explain where an employee can reasonably expect to have privacy in the workplace. Please ensure that you properly reference your resources?
 
2.What are the pro’s and con’s of anonymity on the Internet.  In what situations should anonymity be restricted (either through technology or the law) and why?
 
3.In what ways does “blogging” challenge our current assumptions and norms concerning the intellectual property laws?
 
4.Should the rise of the Internet affect how we view or treat intellectual property,Why or why not?
 
 

Answers:

1. One of the main issues in the management of the human capital is employee monitoring. There are various ways via which such monitoring is being conducted such as checking their computers which are specifically allotted to them, video inspection, intelligence work, snooping and wiretapping. However such activities may lead to compromising the confidentiality of the employees and weaken the professional fitness and safety. But the employers encounter the said criticism by defending that by checking the work of the employees, they ensure to put in adequate controls and ensure that their productivity is maximum. Even though the legal regime supports the employers’ point of view, they should also give due importance to the human aspects as well which may be destabilized because of such monitoring (Yerby, 2013).

Thus the basic issue in today’s work environment is the level of privacy an employee can expect at his workplace since it is very difficult to draw a line between the fact as to when does an employer or an employee is seen crossing the limits. There are some specific laws and regulations formulated for safeguarding the privacy rights of employees. For example there are laws that ensure right to privacy for employees personal data and information, medical information and the screening of their background and such historical records as well. But wherever such a regulation does not exist, there it becomes difficult to decide upon how much to intervene into the work of employees. In such a situation the employers are expected to exercise a reasonable level of privacy. Thus if there exists a situation wherein it was sensible enough for the employee to expect a certain degree of privacy to be maintained, then the court of law would consider that such a privacy right existed (Mishra, & Crampton, 1998) .

Consideration of whether there was a practical anticipation of privacy calls for a balancing test. Various factors are accounted for which also includes the privacy policy penned down by the company and if the employees were made aware of non-existence of such a privacy, how and whether these policies were frequently imposed, the kind of privacy rights bestowed, the nature of employer’s business interest, the nature of employee’s privacy interest, the kind of data being involved and the level of interference by the employer(Gross, 2016). Further to this an employee ensure to comply with a reasonable level of privacy when he or she is using the email system of a company so as not to use it for sending any illegitimate messages or emails to any other employee.

 


It has also been noticed that the federal and state laws have mentioned specially about the rights an employer possesses with regards the monitoring, safeguarding, sound tracking and accessing the employees’ usage of the electronic devices and such other communications systems installed in the company. But if an employer adheres to all these regulations that are mentioned in the stated regime and therefore pens down the policies which are in accordance with these laws then it would be next to impossible for the employees to ensure their performance to show a reasonable expectation of privacy while using the electronic communication systems installed within the organization (Rudner & MacDonald 2014).

The kind of technology being used by the employee also plays a vital role in determining the level of reasonable privacy at workplace. How the employee is communicating i.e. via text messaging, or a mobile phone or a laptop and if the technology that is being used does not provide data beyond what is available to the public, in such a scenario the employee cannot anticipate to have a reasonable level of confidentiality. Similarly, a text message is such a form of communication between the sender and the receiver which is construed to be private generally. But if the medium via which such a communication is taking place belongs to the employer, in such a situation the staff members will have to give way to the expectation for reasonable level of privacy if the employer retains the lawful right to in conducting a search of the device with which such communication took place. Further to this, if an employee is using the company’s email to send personal mails to the third parties, then in such a situation the employer has all rights to check the same and the staff should not expect to have any reasonable level of privacy for the said data (Smith & Burg, 2012). The employer in general course has full rights to access all the computer servers of the organization without any permission of the employee to whom the same is allocated as it is ultimately the property of the company, therefore in such a situation the employees should ensure that they have no rights to exercise any demand for privacy of data. Even if the employee deletes the emails, it is still available in the in the memory which is permanently backed up by the company’s computer system.

Thus on a concluding note, it is understood that an employee can reasonably expect to have privacy in the workplace but with some restrictions which would safeguard the company from any harm. Although the company can take steps to check and do vigilance on the various properties used by the employee, yet the same should be done within certain limits.

 


2
. It is a wide spread concern as whether anonymity is a boon or a curse. Those who always want to maintain privacy, promote anonymity whereas those individuals who are security conscious and the various law enforcement officials want to end the same. Thus ti is very crucial to understand the pros and cons of anonymity. The drawback to anonymity can be seen in our daily lives specifically with regards spam mails wherein the mail ids of the spammers are hidden due to which the recipients of mail are not able to complain once they receive such mails (Rigby,1995). Due to maintenance of anonymity, the users end up sending abusive mails which is impossible to complain since the identity is hidden. Anonymity on the internet may often lead to a situation of identity crisis which is not healthy in the long run. The teens or such other people who hide their identity on the internet generally lead a very insecure life. Lastly, even though it is one of the best methods to try new things but it hinders making new relations with regards those interests since there is no identity with which a person can relate to. Thus a person is known only once he is connected to the internet and once the same is off, his identity also disappears.

However, anonymity on the internet has some advantages of its own as well. Many people are not very confident in revealing oneself to the outer world such as those who belong to the LGBT community. For them connecting with others is very difficult, thus anonymity is one of the recourse to the same. Further to this a person is fearless i.e. not scared of any consequences and more free in his activities. This enables them to learn and develop skills in a better manner which they would otherwise be unable to. Lastly, areas of concern about which people are scared to discuss such as abortion, terrorism, political opinions, can easily now do it online and let the world know without any fear by hiding their identity, thus safeguarding them from any such untoward consequences (Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, 2014).

After reviewing all the pros and cons of anonymity on the internet, it is understood that the same should be restricted in some situations whether via technology or legal regime. Anonymity does not restrict an author from hiding his identity since it construes freedom of speech. Similar to this the law does not restrict a person to hide his identity while casting a vote. However, there has a drastic push on the internet which forces the obscurity providers to expose the individuality of users who have been criminals in the past. Further usage of anonymity for no reason but for the sake of should be avoided because unnecessary usage of anonymous identity defeats the entire purpose. Further if the same is being used for harassing people then the same should be restricted by technology first and then by law as it is illegitimate to harass someone (Trahan, 2011). Lastly, anonymity should be restricted to such websites which are meant for kids and it is very important that their identity is revealed so that they are not allowed to post something which is harmful to the minds of the kids.

 


3.
Intellectual property is basically protection of one’s own creation of human intellect such as an artistic, literary or scientific work. It basically helps to protect the invention of a particular person thus giving the creator an opportunity to utilise his creation full fledged till a specified period of time. Its impact on the growth of the economy of a country as well as the career of the creator is indispensable in nature. Thus if such a protection is not given then the genuine creators will not be held worthy for their creation. It has a great impact on the career success of a person. IP intensive industries account for million jobs wherein the weekly wages on an average amounts to 42 percent more as compared to the other sectors whereas in the patent and the copyright based industries the wage premium is all the more greater.

Thus it is well understood that the absence of Intellectual property does impact the career of the creator. I am an author and if copyright is eliminated then it would have a significant implication on my career path. I will not have any control over my work and the originality will get defeated. As soon as my work starts t get copied, I as an author will loose the creditability of the same and it will be easily accessible to all (Copyrightsworld.com., 2013). The amount of earnings which I would have been able to earn will get diluted and reduced since the work would be easily copied and sold at a cheaper rate. The existence of copyright Intellectual Property helps in my career as it protects the right to duplicate my work, protects the distribution rights, protects the right to develop new work basis the already copyrighted one and protection of the right to perform the copyrighted work in public in the form of movies and theatre plays.

Therefore if the copyright is eliminated then I as an author will not be able to earn from these public plays and movies which would utilise the story I have written to earn millions. Further the availability of the product will be so easy that people will not buy from proper stores the original copy and thus would lead to a loss to the publication house as well as the author’s career since the publishers would not welcome such an author. Therefore it can be rightly said that for an author, his creative work is his asset as it can have a very significant value in the future and can also be used as collateral. Lastly the career graph can shoot up for an author if the work is protected via obtaining a license as if the same interests others also then I can gain financially from its use by others and thus help in protecting the work legally as well (Business & IP Centre., 2017). Therefore elimination of copyright will significantly drool down the career path of me as an author.

 


4.
I feel that the rise of internet does affect how one treats or views the intellectual property. The right to protect one’s own work from being copied by someone else is not a new concept but an age old one, but with the advent of the internet, it has become very difficult to control one’s intellectual property. Amongst the four intellectual property available i.e. patents, trademarks, copyright and trade secrets, one of the main issue is securing the copyrights in this age of digitalisation while ensuring to make them available to the public at large.

As per Section 106 of the Copyright Act 1976, a person is allowed full rights to make a replica of such information, to prepare plagiaristic work, to distribute copies or act upon the copyrighted information but there is only one restriction levied by law i.e. the copyrighted shield exists from the moment the work is comes into existence in its fixed form the copyright is said to be safe automatically. Thus the data mentioned in any web page is construed as fixed form of cyberspace that are regulated under the purview of copyright regulations (Johnson, & Walworth, 2003).

Further the internet has impacted the treatment of intellectual property as the law even argues to the fact that “Publication is no longer a key to obtaining federal copyright.” Due to this the link between a copyright and web page gets strangled. Such is the case of Martha Stewart vs Myself wherein Martha Stewart has displayed on her website the confidential hush puppy recipe which may not be under the federal copyright but if the same is copied from her web page and pasted exactly on mine then it is construed to be a breach of the federal copyright laws. But the main issue due to which the said impacts the mannerism of treating the rise of internet on the intellectual property is that the copyright law only guards the thought of a writer but does not provide any shield to the way via which the said thought is articulated. Lastly the integration of anonymity into the procedure of copying and sharing the data from the net has smeared the difference between sharing and stealing. 

Thus it can be rightly said that the due to the internet, the procedural requirements for protecting the intellectual property has also become more cumbersome. However the same has affected our way of treating the same with more importance than in the past with various laws stating the penal charges with regards infringement of the intellectual property which is very difficult in the world of digitalisation. The internet has made it very difficult for the originators to think and work upon something more innovative as due to the piracy via the internet, the vale has been seen declining (Stoll, 2009). Thus due to the rise of the internet and the lack in the full fledged policy for treating plagiarism of the write ups, the intellectual property rights are seen to be losing the interest.

 

References:

Johnson, C., & Walworth,D.J., (2003), Protecting U.S. Intellectual Property Rights And The Challenges of Digital Piracy, Office of Industries Working Paper, Available at https://www.usitc.gov/publications/332/wp_id_05.pdf (Accessed 23rd April 2017)

Stoll,R.L., (2009), Protecting Intellectual Property Rights in a Global Economy: Current Trends and Future Challenges, Available at https://www.uspto.gov/about-us/news-updates/protecting-intellectual-property-rights-global-economy-current-trends-and (Accessed 23rd April 2017)

Business & IP Centre., (2017), Three reasons for copyright protection, Available at https://www.bl.uk/business-and-ip-centre/articles/three-reasons-for-copyright-protection (Accessed 23rd April 2017)

Copyrightsworld.com., (2013), Why Copyright Protection is Important?, Available at https://www.copyrightsworld.com/copyright/why-copyright-protection-is-so-important/ (Accessed 23rd April 2017)

Rigby,K., (1995), Anonymity on the Internet Must be protected, Available at https://groups.csail.mit.edu/mac/classes/6.805/student-papers/fall95-papers/rigby-anonymity.html (Accessed 23rd April 2017)

Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, (2014), Privacy and Information Technology, Available at https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/it-privacy/ (Accessed 23rd April 2017)

Trahan,D., (2011), The Pros and Cons of Anonymity Online, Available at https://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/148008/the-pros-and-cons-of-anonymity-online.html (Accessed 23rd April 2017)

Gross,B., (2016), Should Your Employees Expect Privacy In The Workplace?, Available at https://www.allbusiness.com/should-your-employees-expect-privacy-in-the-workplace-8518785-1.html (Accessed 23rd April 2017)

Mishra,J., & Crampton,S., (1998), Employee Monitoring: privacy in workplace, SAM Advanced Management Journal, vol.63, no.3, Available at https://www.freepatentsonline.com/article/SAM-Advanced-Management-Journal/21160636.html (Accessed 23rd April 2017)

Rudner,S., & MacDonald,N., (2014), The law, surveillance and employee privacy, Available at https://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/careers/career-advice/experts/what-privacy-rights-to-do-you-have-at-work/article19079506/ (Accessed 23rd April 2017)

Smith,D.V., & Burg,J., (2012), What Are The Limits of Employee Privacy?, American Bar Association, vol. 29, no.6, Available at https://www.americanbar.org/publications/gp_solo/2012/november_december2012privacyandconfidentiality/what_are_limits_employee_privacy.html (Accessed 23rd April 2017)

Yerby,J., (2013), Legal and ethical issues of employee monitoring, Online Journal of Applied Knowledge Management, vol.1, no.2, pp. 44-55

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