Internet Surveillance at the Work Place

Issue

Email and internet access at the work place raise the issue of how the employer can monitor their use and limit their use for nonbusiness purposes. The employer has a legitimate interest in maintaining control over employee internet use in order to:

  • limit the use to work related activities only and thus avoid a decrease in employee productivity;
  • ensure the security of the IT infrastructure by banning certain activities and identifying the source of security breaches;
  • avoid a waste of IT resources.

Restricting internet use is a labour law issue which is not addressed in detail here. The monitoring of the internet use of employees is an issue under both the Swiss Federal Data Protection Act and related labour laws. The Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner also has issued guidelines on the issue.