NY Times: How lose your job when you’re not on the job

I think I may have seen a story about this earlier – in fact, probably even blogged about it, but this is quite invasive, if you ask me. The New York Times has an article on their website about how companies are now “stalking” you away from the office so that it’ll monitor your online activity – can we say “Big Brother”? This is probably the same issue that Facebook ran into with their Beacon program where people were complaining about privacy issues and their behaviors being tracked. And it’s a double-edged sword, really…advertisers need this information, but consumers don’t want to give it up willingly without any compensation and having their privacy invaded.

Funny thing is that the New York Times article is talking about how there is no federal law protecting employees from their employers and this invasive searching. However, there may be some privacy laws that could be broken with advertisers exploiting their customers. Isn’t that the one and the same thing? Why isn’t there a law preventing employers from spying on their employees? The whole notion that I foresee from the company standpoint is that they don’t want their staff embarrassing the company, but it’s only on company time that you should technically be concerned about. Of course there are those certain individuals that should always behave, but that’s based on their role in the company – spokesperson, PR folks, CEO, folks in higher authority, etc. But do we really need to make sure that the bean counters, receptionist, janitors, etc. behave outside of the office?

Okay, so they’re not hunting you down offline with private investigators, but in fact they’re scoping out your behavior through online methods – like looking on your Facebook page or reading your blog, checking out your viewing habits or anything you post online about yourself – photos, writings, videos, etc.

Basically this is saying that you must live a virtuous and truthful life without committing any sin, exploit anyone, or do anything bad…because one way or another it’ll wind up online and your employer may come across it. In fact, why don’t you Google yourself right now and see what comes up. Go ahead, I’ll wait…you might be surprised. So I guess the adage is somewhat true…don’t put anything online that you wouldn’t want your mom to see…or rather, could potentially get you fired.

By Ken Yeung

Ken Yeung is a journalist fascinated with the stories of the tech industry and internet culture. He's currently the Technology Editor at Flipboard, where he observes what's happening in the space while also identifying new topics of interest. In addition, he co-hosts the weekly internet show "The Created Economy," which focuses on what's happening to creators and influencers. Previously, he was a reporter for VentureBeat and The Next Web, covering tech startups, the industry's innovations and funding. Ken also has a newsletter you should also subscribe to called "Filed."