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Companies May Need To Unveil Big Brother To Employees

Complied By Michael Verespej Connecticut is the only state in the U.S. that requires companies to tell their employees that their phone calls, Internet connections, and computer files are being monitored. But all that would change if a measure introduced simultaneously in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives last week becomes law. The bill would not require companies to change their monitoring tactics; but it would require them to inform their employees whenever they make changes in their monitoring policies. It also would require the companies to annually inform employees what electronic communications -- if any -- they monitor and how they use the information. "We would never stand for it if an employer steamed open an employee's mail, read it, and put it back," says Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D, N.Y.), who introduced the bill in the Senate. The measure also would give employees who aren't notified the right to sue their employers and collect damages of up to $20,000 per employee and $500,000 per incident. According to an American Management Assn. survey earlier this year, more than 70% of employers monitor their employees' e-mail, phone calls, Internet connections, and computer files.

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