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Watch out! Big brother's snooping about

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webwatch

Now that most offices are networked it seems the bosses are terrified that you are all downloading naughty images using their electricity and on their time.OK, it happens and people are quite often sacked for this kind of thing - actually more so than for the combined total of the customary offences of violence, theft and health and safety - although it is rarely very clear whether it is for unauthorised use of electricity, time-wasting or the overexciting nature of the images.

One concomitant of all this, in this age of mandatory ID cards and increasing nosiness in the affairs of you and me, is that snooping by bosses is on the increase.

And that means yours.

Now the Information Commission (a scary oxymoron for anyone who has read George Orwell) has come up with a code for snooping bosses. It is probably at www. dataprotection. gov. uk or the linked www. informationcommissioner. gov. uk but I suggest you ring for details: the sites being of the usual government standard of opaqueness.

Working from secondary sources, I gather you do have some privacy rights.Employers may not spy on you without saying they are doing so (which rather takes the fun out of it for them) and they must not look at those of your emails which are plainly private.And they must keep confidential whatever they find out about your internet habits, the must destroy such data following a disciplinary action and they must tell you what they hold on you. I imagine most employers will take not one bit of notice since there seem to be few serious sanctions.And if they don't bother to tell you they are spying how do you know? And who is going to be first to ask? The very question sort of implies that you have been up to something.

Last week I warned about checking your bank security details back with your bank. Since then two friends have had such bogus email requests.Fortunately, they knew it was not their bank that had asked for the secret details.

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