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CPrompt
Maniac (V) Inmate

From: there...no..there.....
Insane since: May 2001

IP logged posted posted 05-16-2007 14:14 Edit Quote

The other day when I came into work, I logged into my computer. I noticed that the domain policy scripts were running quite long. When my computer finally came up, I noticed a new piece of software called SnagIt. OK...I didn't know what it was but a quick google search told me.

I was in the office all day yesterday and was working on some stuff when I noticed in my SystemTray, an icon flash real quick and go away. It looked very much like the SnagIt icon. Strange I thought....

Then today I got an email from one of the other IT guys in another branch. Just had a screen shot sent from our corporate office from someones computer in the other branch (hope that made sense).

Now...when I'm at work, I am working. Usually get here about 30-45 minutes early and not leave until 45 - 60 minutes over. I don't have time to goof off. But I also don't appreciate someone spying on my (if this is indeed the case). It is bad enough that I have to keep a time sheet *and* have GPS on my car. They know exactly where I am at any given time.

So I ask you all...is there somewhere I can find information on what a company can and can not do like this?

Thanks in advance!

Later,

C:\

DL-44
Lunatic (VI) Inmate

From: under the bed
Insane since: Feb 2000

IP logged posted posted 05-16-2007 14:20 Edit Quote

I don't know where you'll find the info, but I can say that they have the right to do almost whatever they want in this regard. You are on their property, using their equipment.

It sucks.
I would be pissed off.

But I don't think there is any actaul recourse for you, other than a polite conversation...

Blaise
Paranoid (IV) Inmate

From: London
Insane since: Jun 2003

IP logged posted posted 05-16-2007 15:11 Edit Quote

There surely is something wrong with them constantly monitoring you, especially if you've been there past your probationary period, it's much like having a manager sitting behind you, watching you work all day, where is the employee trust.

You may not have anything contractually binding to use against them, it is their equipment after all, but they are messing with your work environment, putting undue pressure on you, and I'm sure you could claim plenty of other mistreatments based on this.

You could always remove it from your start up, this may involve editing your registry, but it's not hard.

poi
Paranoid (IV) Inmate

From: Norway
Insane since: Jun 2002

IP logged posted posted 05-16-2007 15:29 Edit Quote

Dunno in your country, but in France companies have to notify the employees of any tracking/spying measures when they hire them. And IIRC employees have to agree on the application of new tracking/spying measures. If the majority of the employees, or their representatives, disagree, the employer can basically shove the new spying measures up somewhere.

Tyberius Prime
Maniac (V) Mad Scientist with Finglongers

From: Germany
Insane since: Sep 2001

IP logged posted posted 05-16-2007 18:20 Edit Quote

Same in Germany, the would be in a big poodle of poo if they tried this without your consent ( and usually, consent of the worker's council).

Does your company have a (written) agreement on computer usage at work? What does it say to surveilance?

Ps: my best suggestion is to get of planet. Second best, move to a decent country. Ain't many of them left, I fear though...

DL-44
Lunatic (VI) Inmate

From: under the bed
Insane since: Feb 2000

IP logged posted posted 05-16-2007 20:42 Edit Quote

Worth a read here: http://computer.howstuffworks.com/workplace-surveillance6.htm

poi
Paranoid (IV) Inmate

From: Norway
Insane since: Jun 2002

IP logged posted posted 05-17-2007 02:57 Edit Quote

Tyberius Prime: All companies I've worked for had a company material usage policy. Basically they said that personnal use is either prohibited or should be reasonable and personnal mails/documents should explicitly state their personnal status so that no one else but you is allowed to read them.

If an employer don't trust people to get the job done, there's no point in hiring them in the first place.

While IT jobs are not physically tiring, one do need a small break every ~2h to stay focused and avoid attention decrease and the stupid mistakes that come with it. Said breaks can be coffee/smoke/snack, quick chat with friends/family, checking/commenting web sites, taking fresh air and chatting on a balcony, ... or playing ping pong as we do at work ( only during lunch time and after 5-6pm, to not disturb too much the people working nearby, then, of course, we go back to our desk if we have something to finnish )

White Hawk
Maniac (V) Inmate

From: zero divided.
Insane since: May 2004

IP logged posted posted 05-17-2007 12:54 Edit Quote

It seems there is quite a divide when it comes to work-place privacy either side of the Atlantic. While most European countries (especially under the Union) have laws in place protecting your privacy (to an extent) even in the office - requiring employees to be informed of surveillance measures - the same cannot be said in the US.

One thing I would suggest is that you do not take it upon yourself to sabotage/remove any measures you find. It could well contravene company policy and render your contract void. There is no workplace problem that can't be made worse by being fired.

Even here in the UK, employees at our UK head office were threatened with immediate dismissal if they adjusted the in-office camera that provides a live feed to the Australian headquarters. I personally think it's disgusting, and count myself lucky that my own employer hasn't either the knowledge or inclination to spy on me...

...but that doesn't stop me running frequent checks on my equipment at the office. You can never be too careful. I even refuse to use the provided company email account, as it is all routed through the company's Australian servers.

If I ever found spy software on my work machine without being informed of its use/presence, I would have a strong case for an employment tribunal.

................
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DL-44
Lunatic (VI) Inmate

From: under the bed
Insane since: Feb 2000

IP logged posted posted 05-17-2007 14:52 Edit Quote
quote:

poi said:

If an employer don't trust people to get the job done, there's no point in hiring them in the first place.



I really hope you realize what a silly statement that is in the big picture

If companies only hired trustworthy people, there would be no such thing as companies...

twItch^
Maniac (V) Mad Scientist

From: Denver, CO, USA
Insane since: Aug 2000

IP logged posted posted 05-17-2007 17:47 Edit Quote

We as employees trust the company not to bounce checks. The company should trust the employee to do the work required to earn that paycheck. That's the Way It Should Be(tm).

Fact is that, at least in America, we don't like that paradigm. That requires the billionaire at the top of the food chain to trust the underlings making under $50k/year. That will never happen. But we're docile enough, as a work force, that we're okay with that sort of treatment. We have Human Resources departments (when did humanity become a resource?) that make sure people fill out their timesheets and sign the correct papers and kiss the right ass. We have managers who don't know what the engineers are doing, we have engineers who don't know what the sales people are doing, and we have a big fat cat at the top who doesn't care what anyone else is doing so long as it keeps his bottom line tight and his wallet packed.


This is not a good thing. I recognize that argument for employee surveilance--their equipment, their accounts being drained by your employment, etc, etc--but when there is no trust at all, that is a hostile working environment. Fortunately for them, we can all be replaced relatively quickly with someone who has comparable skills. The world's just too damn big to think we are, as simple cogs, more important than ... well, simple cogs.


I say raise a fucking ruckus. If I noticed any program running on my computer that I did not initiate, I would terminate it, find its source, and kill it. If it came back, I'd do it again. And again. And if it were corporate spyware, I'd be out of the office and taking my vacation time and last checks faster than you can say "At Will".


We keep falling back when it comes to our rights as workers. We have almost none left. But I know where I've drawn my line, and no company will ever cross it. Whether it's a development firm I'm working for, or the U.S. government, I say, "This far, no further."

But, then, that's just me.

-steve

DL-44
Lunatic (VI) Inmate

From: under the bed
Insane since: Feb 2000

IP logged posted posted 05-17-2007 18:53 Edit Quote
quote:

twItch^ said:

We keep falling back when it comes to our rights as workers. We have almost none left.



I beg to differ.

We have far *more* rights as workers than we've *ever* had before. Abiding by such rights is why the average cost for employers in the US is high enough that huge numbers of jobs are outsourced to chearper overseas companies without such stringent and exepensive issues.

We're spoiled in taht regard compared to a) many nations around the world and b) any point in our history.

So...

just something to keep in mind

CPrompt
Maniac (V) Inmate

From: there...no..there.....
Insane since: May 2001

IP logged posted posted 05-17-2007 20:22 Edit Quote
quote:

twItch^ said:

And if it were corporate spyware, I'd be out of the office and taking my vacation time and last checks faster than you can say "At Will".



How I wish I could do that. However, I need my job to pay bills and well, stay married. I will bring it to someones attention. Just like putting in the IGSA filter that prevents me to get to some sites that I need in order to do my job.

As far as any "written agreement" the only one there is, is this: (company name deleted for privacy)

quote:


I ______________________, have been issued and received a laptop computer and other
property as described below by <company>, and in consideration of such, do
hereby agree to the following terms and conditions.

I. I will be held responsible for any theft, damage, or loss of the laptop computer,
and other property described below in accordance with company policies.

II. I agree not to use any unlicensed software on the laptop issued to me by <company>.
All software used on <company> computers
will be properly licensed and controlled. New software and upgrades may be
loaded on a company computer after receiving approval from the Corporate
Computer Administrator or Branch Manager. At regular intervals, software on
company computers may be audited to insure compliance with this policy.

III. I will use the equipment and properties described herein for business purposes
only and use only passwords assigned by <company> Corporate Computer
Administrator.




Now...the part where they say "software on company computers may be audited to insure compliance with this policy" kind of digs at me sort of.
They have in place "Managed Software" so they can see everything that is loaded on a computer. I don't really care about that. Nothing illegal or anything on it. Just some of my own software that I need (or free stuff like Mr. Max's HTML Beauty).

I don't see anything about, "We hold the right to take scree shots of your computer to see what you are doing" though.

Later,

C:\

DL-44
Lunatic (VI) Inmate

From: under the bed
Insane since: Feb 2000

IP logged posted posted 05-17-2007 20:39 Edit Quote

That's because this is an agreement that they are holding you to - it is about *your* actions. It doesn't really address theirs, and this type of agreement isn't meant to...

twItch^
Maniac (V) Mad Scientist

From: Denver, CO, USA
Insane since: Aug 2000

IP logged posted posted 05-18-2007 18:40 Edit Quote
quote:

DL-44 said:
I beg to differ. We have far *more* rights as workers than we've *ever* had before. Abiding by such rights is why the average cost for employers in the US is high enough that huge numbers of jobs are outsourced to chearper overseas companies without such stringent and exepensive issues.We're spoiled in taht regard compared to a) many nations around the world and b) any point in our history.So...just something to keep in mind



You're welcome to disagree. But I happen to know that unions are all but powerless & totally corrupt, strike-busting is a way of life for industrial workers, temporary employment (scabs, et al) are on the rise, we work longer and longer hours with fewer and fewer benefits (healthcare? At a tech firm?), we can be fired with or without cause (I've read of bosses adding 'no smoking' rules, on or off the clock, for example) at any point in our day. I've read of large companies doing evil things to subvert the American worker (like Gilette stopping production in Atlanta and over-producing in Germany, despite the higher cost of work there, simply for the purposes of enraging class war). I've watched billion dollar companies folding like houses of cards because of corrupt leadership who can't keep their hands out of the corporate pocket, (Enron? Tyco? Adelphia?) and we all know we're throwing the dice when we're offered retirement plans.

No, DL, the workforce in America is in a pitiful state. But apparently we're too tired to fight it. So chip, chip, chip.

-steve

DL-44
Lunatic (VI) Inmate

From: under the bed
Insane since: Feb 2000

IP logged posted posted 05-18-2007 19:49 Edit Quote
quote:

twItch^ said:

You're welcome to disagree. But I happen to know that unions are all but powerless & totally corrupt, strike-busting is a way of life for industrial workers, temporary employment (scabs, et al) are on the rise, we work longer and longer hours with fewer and fewer benefits (healthcare? At a tech firm?), we can be fired with or without cause (I've read of bosses adding 'no smoking' rules, on or off the clock, for example) at any point in our day. I've read of large companies doing evil things to subvert the American worker (like Gilette stopping production in Atlanta and over-producing in Germany, despite the higher cost of work there, simply for the purposes of enraging class war). I've watched billion dollar companies folding like houses of cards because of corrupt leadership who can't keep their hands out of the corporate pocket, (Enron? Tyco? Adelphia?) and we all know we're throwing the dice when we're offered retirement plans.No, DL, the workforce in America is in a pitiful state. But apparently we're too tired to fight it. So chip, chip, chip.-steve



All of these things are things that we *love* to think were once so much better (and some I'd say are simply inaccurate). That somehow there was a golden age of humanity where everything was nice and everyone was treated fairly.

Whatever your take on the state of things today, it's still better than it has been throughout history (healthcare? A hundred years ago? )

~shrug~
not saying it's what it should be. Just saying it has never been, and pipe dreams we tend to think of as having happened usually never did.

=)

(Edited by DL-44 on 05-18-2007 19:52)

WebShaman
Lunatic (VI) Mad Scientist

From: Happy Hunting Grounds...
Insane since: Mar 2001

IP logged posted posted 05-18-2007 23:22 Edit Quote

Wow, you guys work in some really messed up work environments!

We have two networks at my workplace - the company network, for official business, etc, and our test environment, which is totally unmonitored, and is not connected to the company network.

Best of both worlds, really.

I have no idea why any employer would want to monitor all their Employees on a constant basis. That must be generating an incredible amount of data for all those employees every day! Even if the results are going into an automated process, it has to be analysed and interpreted somewhere down the line...

A middle manager's nightmare.

We normally get a monthly "pep" meeting with our Team Leader - and that is normally enough to determine if someone is doing thier job or not. Occassionally there is monitoring, but normally only if someone has below values in thier PeP ratings.

Anything more than this (and even this has fallen out of disuse in most projects due to money and time constraints - i.e. manhours) is not only too expensive, but too time intensive for middle management to actually do.

And to be honest, the only time things start to get serious, is if projected ratings for the project are not being met - i.e. it is not hitting the economic forecasts.

I'm basically with twItch^ - one needs to draw the line somewhere, and needs to stand up for oneself when one feels that they are being unfairly mistreated. My work career is a testament to this principle. It is more than possible to do this in a civil and professional manner, and still not only remain hired, but to also work one's way up the corporate ladder.

Remember, hysterics and overreaction rarely lead to a positive solution.

I normally gather information first, and get my facts straight! before first working my way up the chain of command. A positively written (yes, corporate-speak here, because that is what *they* understand) explanation and offered solutions to the problem that are not only feasible, but easy to impliment - include facts and only facts, but pad them with nice, sickly-positive wording. Get everything in writing, and make sure that those who have read your proposal respond to it in a written fashion AND SAVE THESE OUTSIDE OF THE NORMAL NETWORK! Time and time again, such has come to my rescue when someone tried to pass the blame onto me.

Then it is a matter of getting the necessary resources mobilized, and using your human networking to forge ahead.

WebShaman | The keenest sorrow (and greatest truth) is to recognize ourselves as the sole cause of all our adversities.
- Sophocles

SleepingWolf
Paranoid (IV) Inmate

From:
Insane since: Jul 2006

IP logged posted posted 05-18-2007 23:56 Edit Quote

Not all employees are honest.

A company in the U.S. (not sure about Canada) has the right to monitor emails, internet use. While this pisses off honest people, we can take it or leave it. Employers are not putting guns to our heads to work for them. If you don't like the policy, tell them...or tell them as part of your "exit interview" when you resign.

Monitoring does allow a company to ensure that its IP (intellectual property) is being respected (we just fired someone we had just hired because we found out, too late, that he sold trade secrets at his previous company), that nobody is downloading porn, and nobody is engaged in child porn. A few years ago, the VP of a local high school was caught with tons of kiddy porn on his hard drive - he was fired - but the school never recovered from the bad publicity. So there is risk, legal and business, for companies that have laissez-faire attitudes.

Our company does not monitor internet use but if you walk around the halls you will see many employees abusing that privilege, spending hours surfing or researching their next car or a new home.

I think a company should tell its employees that they are doing the monitoring though. This keeps the honest people honest. I would not work for a company that spies on me. But again, you don't like the polices, then GTFO.

Nature & Travel Photography
Visit the Sleeping Wolves

edit: just for the record, i think what cprompts company is doing is disgusting and deceitful...i would tell em to take their job and shove it.

(Edited by SleepingWolf on 05-19-2007 00:18)

CPrompt
Maniac (V) Inmate

From: there...no..there.....
Insane since: May 2001

IP logged posted posted 05-19-2007 13:29 Edit Quote
quote:

SleepingWolf said:

I think a company should tell its employees that they are doing the monitoring though.




exactly my point. My biggest gripe is that I was never told they were going to do this. Makes it that much worse IMO.

quote:

WebShaman said:

That must be generating an incredible amount of data for all those employees every day!



There is 1 person that monitors the GPS logs for the entire company. 9 branches and somewhere between 50 -75 people per branch. She takes the logs and turns the times in to payroll as how we get paid now. She's screwed mine up on numerous occasions.

Later,

C:\

White Hawk
Maniac (V) Inmate

From: zero divided.
Insane since: May 2004

IP logged posted posted 05-20-2007 03:23 Edit Quote

A case for consideration:

An individual was forced to resign a small firm over a blank refusal to answer questions regarding a personal relationship with a client's staff member. Both the client's firm and the individual's own firm were covertly aware of a relationship, as both individuals involved had engaged in personal discussions through company email. While the relationship had little to do with their respective employment, it seems that an influential member of the client's staff threatened to switch contractors over the alleged affair, thus denying a substantial source of revenue for the small firm.

There were no dismissals and no action could logically or rightfully be taken by either firm against any individual, yet the threat of potential ruination through the loss of a critical client culminated in political pressure upon the individual to seek alternative employment. The individual was afforded paid time for a job search, and arrangements were otherwise fairly amicable, but the individual was never informed that emails were monitored despite their content being pivotal in the lead-up to these specific events.

While an individual is protected to some degree from unfair or constructive dismissal, and while a personal relationship between employees in collaborating firms should really be nobody's business but theirs, circumstances are never that straight forward. Not all forms of persecution by influential individuals falls into the category of law.

Arguably, this serves as good reason never to engage in unsecured personal communication on company email/networks, and highlights the damage potentially wrought by the irresponsible dissemination of what should be privileged information. While all email is vulnerable to compromise, one should consider work emails, networks and PCs about as private as a station toilet. Even if communications contain nothing of any technical relevance to one's contract, there is wisdom in keeping things to oneself.

(Edited by White Hawk on 05-20-2007 03:26)

Hugh
Paranoid (IV) Inmate

From: Dublin, Ireland
Insane since: Jul 2000

IP logged posted posted 05-29-2007 11:18 Edit Quote

Can that software take a screenshot without you knowing? Are you sure it wasn't installed so people could just share screenshots, isn't that a fairly common thing people email about. It could be just there so the techies don't have to explain how to do print screen in paint to everyone.



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