Date:         Wed, 11 Jul 2001 00:30:24 +0000
Sender:       The Internet TourBus - A virtual tour of cyberspace
From:         Bob Rankin 
Subject:      TOURBUS - 10 July 01 - Is Someone Watching?
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              TOURBUS Volume 6, Number 94 -- 10 July 2001
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          TODAY'S TOURBUS TOPIC: Is Someone Watching?
Is your instant messaging software spying on you?  Is the boss keeping
tabs on your Internet usage?  Find out who knows what you're doing in
cyberspace, in this edition of the Internet Tourbus!
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Most people take it for granted that when they send an email, the
recipient will save the message in a folder so they can refer to it
later.  But given the more casual nature of instant messaging, you
might be surprised to learn that your "chat stream" doesn't go away
when you end the conversation.
If you use ICQ, you should keep in mind that all chat sessions are
automatically logged (archived) on both ends of the conversation. You
can disable logging for everyone or just certain individuals, but the
conversation could still be archived by the other party.
Yahoo Messenger also has archiving, but it's not automatically turned
on.  Yahoo added the archiving feature this May, to allow people to
manage instant message sessions similar to the way email is managed.
But users are not warned when the party on the other end is recording
the conversation.
It's a bit more complicated for users of AOL Instant Messenger (AIM).
The Mac version of AIM allows archiving, but it's not turned on by
default.  AIM for Windows doesn't offer the archiving feature, but
users can still save their IM windows as a text file.
In summary, if you use ICQ, Messenger or AIM, your conversations could
be recorded with or without your knowledge.  As you might expect, this
has raised some legal and privacy concerns.  In the context of the
telephone, you must have consent from both parties when recording a
conversation in some parts of the USA and other countries.  Remember
Linda Tripp?  The experts say that logging of instant messages appears
to violate no laws, but I wouldn't be surprised to see this challenged
in the courts before long.
If you have access to the Web at work, chances are good that your
employer is looking over your virtual shoulder.  According to a new
study from the Privacy Foundation 
... 35 percent of the online workforce in the USA (27 percent
worldwide) have their Web and/or email usage under continuous
surveillance by software that keeps track of where you go and what you
say.  This does not include companies that perform sporadic checks or
monitoring of "problem employees".  Depending on how a company
configures the monitoring software, an employee can get flagged for
visiting objectionable websites, or for spending too much time online.
The software can also detect emails that contain inappropriate
Companies such as Websense and MIMESweeper that sell monitoring
software hawk their wares on the basis that it will improve employee
productivity, decrease corporate liability and free up all the
bandwidth that employees are using for personal tasks.  A recent
Websense press release claimed that it will cost companies $18 billion
due to employees making travel plans on the company dime.
Can you get fired for wasting time on the Web, or forwarding a dirty
joke?  You betcha.  In 1999, Xerox fired 40 workers for surfing
forbidden websites, and last month the South Dakota state government
fired 20 employees for Internet misuse.  Other large companies known
to be using monitoring software include Zenith Electronics, American
Express, Marriott Barclays Bank, Duracell and Texaco.
Ironically, companies that are overly concerned about liabilities
arising from employee Internet use could end up causing themselves
even more trouble.  "By creating and storing a detailed audit trail of
employee activities," says the Privacy Foundation, " organizations may
be inadvertently stockpiling large amounts of potential evidence that
could be used against them in future litigation." The Foundation's
Workplace Surveillance Project is a good read.  You can find the
entire text here:  
That's all for now, I'll see you next time!  --Bob Rankin
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