FAQ: E-Mail Monitoring at Work

Question

” How would an employee find out if Supervisor is monitoring their email accounts?”

Answer

This is a very good question.  The agency, nor its managers, are able to arbitrarily view agency e-mail accounts.  In fact, it’s not even easy.  Most agencies have redundant safeguards to prevent unauthorized surveillance of employee e-mail accounts.  Typically, approval must be obtained from a division head and then IT approval, and finally, HQ approval.  This is not to say you have any right to privacy at work, because you really do not.

It would not be easy to determine if an agency or supervisor is monitoring your e-mail account.  You could file a FOIA with your agency.  You would most likely be better off simply asking via official channels, working your way up the chain of command.  If your e-mail account is being monitored, it is most likely being “swept” by surveillance programs that focus on keywords or unusual activity based on what we have seen in evidence files used in disciplinary or adverse action proceedings.

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3 comments for “FAQ: E-Mail Monitoring at Work

  1. md2tn
    April 2, 2013 at 9:53 am

    Additionally, what would preclude supervisor from disseminating information (should they be made aware from IT, HR, etc of results of “swept”) to other staff members? Again, snail mail w/stamp to Union, EEO/HR, IG, OSC, etc.??

  2. md2tn
    April 2, 2013 at 9:26 am

    Regarding above response; why would anyone contact a Union official, EEO/Resolution Management, Compliance, Office of Ethics, Office of Integrity, OSC, OIG, etc. etc. via electronic communication? Would it be better to write a letter each time?

  3. Retired Malcontent Fed
    March 30, 2013 at 10:35 pm

    Another method is to do a Google search of your own name. This was how several FDA employee whistle blowers found out that their private email accounts that included messages to their congressmen, and the Office of Special Counsel were being monitored by agency management.

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