REMOTE WORKER WONDERS, ‘CAN BOSS SPY ON MY HOME PC?’
QUESTION: I just accepted a job with a company, working a hybrid schedule. This is the first time I’ve done any kind of remote work (for pay). I like the idea of working from home two days each week, but I’m concerned about whether my personal information and accounts will be vulnerable, and whether my employer will be able to monitor what I’m doing (which seems creepy). My remote work is supposed to be done on my personal laptop; I have a company-owned computer at the office.
ANSWER: If you’re using your own personal device, your employer is not allowed to monitor your activity without you consent. But, if you decide to give your employer the OK to monitor what you do on your computer, be careful: Some employer-requested remote spyware allows the boss to take screen shots of your screen, open your webcam or microphone, log your keystrokes, and even track your location.
Even without your consent to monitor your actions, your employer may have access to your personal information or online activity, to a limited extent, if you use a work network, intranet, or send emails through a company email account. If you want to keep your personal activity personal, make sure you use a work email account only for emails related to work. Do not even use your personal account to send emails to a co-worker at their work email address.
Many employers, despite the expense, provide remote workers a dedicated work laptop, for work use only. If you’re using a work device – forget about privacy! What you do on work laptop can be accessible to your employer. One worker we spoke with, who works from home for a large company, said he keeps his work laptop for work only. If he needs to conduct any personal business during work hours, no matter how brief, he uses his separate personal laptop.
Even keeping one computer for work and another for personal business can have its risks. One hybrid worker discovered this fact when she checked her browser history on her work laptop and found the previous night’s activity on her personal laptop displayed – including a search for a feminine hygiene product. If your Google account is synced on multiple devices, your browsing history may turn up on all of them. If you’re not sure if this is occurring, check your browsing history in Chrome (click on the three dots in the upper right corner of the screen to see a pulldown menu). If the history contains your at-work searches as well as your after-hours browsing, you may want to unsync the devices and/or use different browsers for home and work (information on how to do this is, predictably, available online).
The lawyers at GWINN LEGAL PLLC are experienced attorneys and are happy to answer your questions. Give us a call for a free initial telephone consultation about your legal needs. For consideration of your questions in our web column, please submit your inquiry on the “Contact Us” page of our website at www.gwinnlegal.com.
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ASK THE LAWYER
By: Daniel A. Gwinn, Esq.
Attorney and Counselor at Law
GWINN LEGAL PLLC
900 Wilshire Drive, Suite 104
Troy, MI 48084
(248) 970-0311 facsimile