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Watching the watchers: "voluntary monitoring" of infosec employees

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Purpose ‐ While many papers discuss the privacy implications of workplace monitoring, the purpose of this paper is to describe the positive aspects to voluntary monitoring in the workplace. Design/methodology/approach ‐ These aspects were identified through in-depth qualitative interviews with employees of various organizations chosen for the invasiveness of their monitoring procedures. Specifically, the authors worked with individuals who had high-level government clearances, working in information security (infosec), who were subjected to comprehensive monitoring both before being employed and during the term of their employment. Findings ‐ Through these interviews, the paper identifies four positive results of employee monitoring, four procedural issues that affected employee perception of the monitoring, and two secondary aspects that are specific benefits of holding a clearance, as opposed to benefits from the monitoring itself. Research limitations/implications ‐ The research reported here is gathered from a specific sample: eight participants working at American infosec organizations. Thus, the results may not be widely generalizable to work environments, particularly for employees working in other countries where different monitoring requirements exist. Originality/value ‐ The contribution of this paper is the identification of positive aspects to voluntary monitoring as a condition of employment, the implication of which is that workplace monitoring can be deployed with positive results. The paper also identifies procedural aspects that organizations can address in order to improve employees' experience of being monitored. While preliminary, these results can be used to guide future research directions. Additionally, organizations that require employee monitoring can use these results to strengthen benefits to employees in compensation for their voluntary cooperation.

Keywords: Conditions of employment; Data security; Employee relations; Privacy; Surveillance

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2010


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