Now bosses can legally read your emails, should you panic?

Okay, it’s not the end of the world but is slightly worrying. As of January this year, your bosses can quite legally go snooping around your emails, texts, Whatsapps and general internet activity while you’re at work. Don’t even think about using Facebook anymore.

“Why is this? Who gives them the right?!” Well, that’s a good question and it turns out that a bunch of big-wigs called The European Court of Human Rights passed the ruling. Does that answer your questions?

This debate began back in 2007 after a Romanian engineer was fired from his job for sending private Yahoo messages to his fiancée at the time. She is no longer engaged to that man. She was too embarrassed by the fact he was outed globally using ‘Yahoo Messenger’. I’m kidding. But imagine if that had happened!

Anyway, from there the ECHR declared it was was not “unreasonable for an employer to want to verify that the employees are completing their professional tasks during working hours”.

And, in fairness, we all probably spend a lot of company time and resources on sites we probably shouldn’t be. But since employers can now verify for themselves how we’re using office equipment, we have to be more careful than ever with how we use the internet at work.

Here are four things to think about regarding your work emails and internet activity.

1. Online shopping

It’s tempting to spend a few minutes of every hour just browsing the web for stuff to fill your flat with and since you’ll probably get it delivered to work, it makes sense to do your shopping here. However, your boss will be able to see how long you spent deliberating over cushions and that’s just information you don’t want out in the open.

2. Emails cannot just be ‘deleted’

The thing people don’t realise about the internet is that nothing goes away forever. You might delete an email, then destroy the backup but somewhere, somehow it can resurface. There’s no point covering your tracks but this does bring us to our next point.

3. Employers need to take responsibility

This new system wasn’t just passed to stitch up employees. Employers need to educate their workers on what emails can be used for and the guidelines of having a work phone etc. Similarly, they can’t just go snooping without justified reason.

4. Check what account you’re operating from

The best advice we can give is to accept that you’ll never stop doing personal stuff during work hours – it’s not going to happen. Instead, apply some caution to what accounts you’re logged in on and how often you’re using apps and programmes you shouldn’t be. Everything in moderation, friends.