Canadian government passes bill that limits privacy on official computers

online privacy in CanadaEven though this may seem like shocking news, people using office computers and network connections have almost no privacy. All their activities and Internet usage can be monitored and also blocked by the network administrators and supervisors.  Although, concerned officials argue that employee monitoring is essential for the safety and security of the company, they are still invading the privacy of employees using office computers. This has already created a great deal of friction between employees and employers, as well as among concerned policy makers.

Laws aside, there are very few if any ways to hide from the network administrators who look after the IT infrastructure of a company.  They have a range of firewall and network usage tools that can easily detect and record exactly which websites you are visiting while using an office connection and computer. In addition, IT people can also look at your computer and files using remote desktop tools and other functions. Needless to say, they can also see what kind of documents you are printing if you use a network office printer. In short, you have almost no privacy when you are using your office computer.

Even though the Canadian government’s bill allowing owners to monitor employee desktop, laptop, and network amounts to little more than a rubber stamp in light of pre-existing technologies, you should still be aware of the consequences of breaking company policies surrounding computer usage. If you are working in a Canadian company and use your official PC for personal uses, it is a good time for you to give up this risky habit. In particular, if personal use isn’t permitted or implied, the owner now has a legal right to snoop into any computer attached to their network, as well as take actions to remove you from the job.

Even though the police must still have a warrant to search computers, some feel that the Canadian government made a very risky decision. As you may be aware, the case for allowing employer snooping was made based on the ruling in the case of Richard Cole, a school teacher who collected child porn while entrusted with the authority to access computers of the students.  As disturbing as this case may be, both citizens and policy makers feel there must be some resolution that will ensure safety for all without so many violations of personal privacy while at work.