U-turn gives green light to e-mail monitoring

Employers are to be given powers to monitor employees’ personal e-mails
following the Information Commission’s U-turn on the controversial Draft Data
Protection Monitoring Code.

The climbdown is in response to criticism by the CIPD, the CBI and the
Government’s Better Regulation Task Force over the complexity, length and
content of the code (News 21 May/30 April).

The monitoring code forms one of four being published by the commission to
help employers comply with requirements under the Data Protection Act 1998,
which came into force in October.

Under the original draft of the code organisations were not allowed to
monitor staff e-mails, but they will now be able to open personal ones in
appropriate circumstances – where staff are under suspicion, for example.

Lead adviser on public policy at the CIPD Diane Sinclair, said: "We
welcome a less prescriptive approach to personal e-mails. But under suspicion
of what? Not enough work, criminal activity?"

The commission has also agreed to a one-month open consultation via its


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