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Privacy issue for work emails

THE head of a Leederville Internet and email monitoring software company is concerned some “big brother” workplace monitoring solutions may be breaching the Telecommunications Interception Act.

Speaking to Business News last week, Dial-IT Enterprises Pty Ltd general manager John Enever queried whether software that intercepts and filters staff emails is illegal under the Act.

The Telecommunications Interception Act states that it is an offence to intercept communications passing over an Australian communications system.

With email and the Internet becoming more common in workplaces, many employers have adopted monitoring solutions to filter or even stop emails from reaching the recipient. According to provisions in the Act, an employer is only entitled to examine the email after it has been received, not en route to its destination.

Mr Enever said Dial-IT’s web monitoring software was developed with the interception legislation in mind. Rather than filtering incoming and outgoing information, the company’s new We.C-IT product makes a copy of the email packet, which employers or system administrators can view in real time or in a report at the end of the day.

“The company can then look at the URL and tell at a glance whether the address is a porn site or a work-related site,” Mr Enever said.

“The software identifies which PC the addresses have come from and the company can take appropriate action if the company’s Internet usage policy has been breached.”

Managers or system administrators can view URL and email records in real time but Mr Enever said We.C-IT also was useful for small businesses. The boss can receive ‘exception’ reports after each working day, week or month. The reports highlight URLs and emails that may breach company policy and also show how long each employee spends on the web and how much it costs.

Mercedes College, Central TAFE, Scotch College, the Water and Rivers Commission are said to be interested in the software.

Mr Enever said email and Internet misuse by employees was a growing problem for many companies and institutions. It exposed employers to litigation, caused reduced network efficiency, increased the risk of viruses and increased IT costs.

“Once we’ve installed the software we’ve found a lot of people were going to the porn and online gambling sites but also to job search sites. Perhaps there is some sort of underlying issue that needs to be worked out,” he said.

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