Is there still any privacy online?

29 Nov


  • Do employers have the right to know what their employees do when they are not working? Why or why not?

I do not think that employers have the right to know what their employees do when they are not working. Employers should judge employees by their working ability instead of personal life. As long as employees have good performance in work, there is no reason for employers to interfere their personal life. However, it becomes harder and harder to draw the line between work and personal life. Just like Abe (2009) mentioned, “people have come to experience the convenience and efficacy of digital interactive media in their everyday life.” The products of digital era such as Facebook, MSN and smartphone make the line between work and personal life blurring. Employers can easily get employees’ personal life information even when they are not intended to.

  • Can these cases with professional athletes (Sanderson, 2009) can be applied to (or compared with) other types of employees — such as lawyers, teachers, advertising sales reps, etc. Why or why not?

I think the cases cited by Sanderson (2009) can be compared with other types of employees. Although the athletes cited by Sanderson (2009) are famous, people may have much interest in their life. We can still see that there are many “normal people” being discussed on certain forum about their special/unethical behavior. For example, there was a case in Taiwan that a nurse was taken a photo when she was maltreating an old patient. The photo was wide spread online and eventually the hospital fired the nurse. It may be hard for other types of employees to interact with online users actively. However, users are willing to provide information when they think the encounter is interesting and worth to discuss.

  • Is the typical college student’s participation in Facebook an example of Abe’s “peer surveillance”? Why or why not?

I think that college students participating in Facebool is an example of Abe’s “peer surveillance” (2009). Although the system of Facebook is not like mixi that you have to be invited by a member to participate in and there is no “trace record” in Facebook, we can still choose to friend with whom, to share life with the friends we feel safe and comfortable. When feeling safe and comfortable, we would be more willing to share our personal life. And we can interact with friends on Facebook. We are “as an active agent of surveillance” on Facebook.

  • When you think about Abe’s claim that “every aspect of our communication via those media can be easily traced back and stored” (p. 76), does this seem good to you, or bad? Why or why not? Consider the idea that everyone is monitoring everyone else.

I would say that communication can be traced back and stored is good to me, but it is definitely convenient. I do not have to bring map to travel, do not have to memorize every word I typed. To be honest, I was the kind of people Abe (2009) mentioned, I didn’t think I may be in the risk of being monitored. I just enjoyed the convenience which technology gives to me. However, the situation mentioned by Abe reminds me the movie “Enemy of the State.” We may not face the exaggerated situation. Yet, if our personal information such as bank account is really easily being got by others, then this seems bad to me.




15 Responses to “Is there still any privacy online?”

  1. luckymaggie November 29, 2010 at 12:36 pm #

    I really like your point that “the products of digital era such as Facebook, MSN and smartphone make the line between work and personal life blurring”. It reminds me of one idea presented in the article talking about Twitter, which is saying access to Internet is sort of adding workload for employees. I think that’s true. One of my friends just told me remember to close Skype and MSN off-work in case your boss find you online and assign you extra work when you’re not in your office time. It’s hard to maintain privacy in such a digital age as everything could be exposed to the public via Internet.

  2. Shine Lyui November 29, 2010 at 11:20 pm #

    I am not sure if this is a stupid question, but I have been wondering since I read about Abe’s description of mixi. So you have to be invited in order to become a member? What if nobody invites you? And how did the first member become a member since nobody should be able to invite him/her? I also question Abe’s view on peer-to-peer surveillance. Why would someone want to monitor their own friends anyway? Or is it because on mixi everyone’s page is open to all users? How does this function of mixi supports the idea of peer surveillance?

  3. tinamomo November 30, 2010 at 7:54 pm #

    I think in some professions where the employees are public figures, the organizations have good reasons to know what their employees do when they are not working, but I agree with you that they don’t have the right to monitor their employees’ personal lives. But I also think that information from the fans is good source for organizations because the fans have rights to write about their encounter with a star or posting pictures took by themselves. As to the issue mentioned in another article, I would consider it a problem if my information is visible to others. You pointed out that the cookies stored in our computers facilitate our daily performance, but it also endangers our privacy. So it’s kind of like a double-edged sword.

  4. Sijia December 1, 2010 at 9:07 pm #

    I feel that communication storage is a beautiful idea and I believe the initial motivation is pure good, but sure it could be risky at some point when a wrong person takes advantage of such function for a wrong purpose. However, even if it is the case, I still think information should be kept and able to be traced back. I think the solution for protecting pravacy is to find other ways to limit the access and usage of such information, but not to abandon the technology.

  5. Kayley Thomas December 1, 2010 at 10:56 pm #

    In the Taiwan case you mention, the surveillance involved her actual duties as an employee, so I feel like that wasn’t inappropriate (even if someone taking video or photo of me while I teach is an unnerving thought, even if I’m doing nothing wrong). I agree with your first point that it’s fair to monitor what your employee does on the clock as it affects the job, but afterhours has nothing to do with their job. They’re not being paid for that time, so the employer doesn’t have authority over the person at that time. If my job is going to monitor me after hours so that I need to be a model employee in my own house or when I’m out in public, I should be getting paid for that! Now, if you bring your personal life into the workplace through your use of digital media while working, I think that this does have the potential to be monitored by your employer and used against you, because you are on their time – I think there should be detailed contracts outlining rules and expectations for behavior so that everyone is clear on what they are accountable for.

  6. fanninchen December 3, 2010 at 10:07 am #

    My previous work did monitor employees’ documents, emails and online conversations. We even could not log in MSN in the morning and could not access facebook. But I think it was perfectly normal because I was using the device they provide me,and my salary is depend on my working hours, so it’s crucial for the company that they monitor employees working status and make sure we did not use the working time for leisure activities or dealing with personal stuff.

  7. Xuerui December 3, 2010 at 10:58 am #

    I agree with you that the line between personal life and work is blurred. There is no way that employees could only use their computers for work. I am not saying that these employees are not hard-working but sometimes people need a break from their work. Checking personal E-mails and messages on social networking sites is a normal thing for employees. These people may get their job done perfectly but still have the chance for personal stuff. I do not think the company has the right to access employee’s work computer as long as they get their job done on time. Even though they need to check their business work, it doesn’t give them the right to employees’ personal lives. But if the employee is involved in something illegal like stealing business information, it is another thing.

  8. morganyang December 3, 2010 at 4:50 pm #

    I agree the way you think for the first question. One of my friends is the victim of the sensorship in her company. The employer monitored her computer and accused her for surfing internet during the office time. But actually, her job needs information that need to find online. It is really hard to draw a line the purpose of using internet between self amusement and work need.

  9. Mindy McAdams December 12, 2010 at 9:57 am #

    To me, it’s worrisome that information I put online “can be easily traced back and stored,” because if we ever got an oppressive government regime in the U.S., some crazy people might try to get rid of professors who have liberal ideas. The state of Florida is my employer, so I think this is a very real concern.

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