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How to Monitor Your Employees — While Respecting Their Privacy

Employee monitoring software is an essential resource for protecting intellectual property, protecting confidential data, and ensuring company assets' proper use. The software solutions are mostly used in monitoring employees to collect a wide range of information like accessed files history, email traffics, keystroke, and internet usage. To ensure compliance with data privacy regulations, implementing these technologies must be properly weighed against the potential impact on employee privacy.

Are Employee Surveillance Data Considered Sensitive?

Although standard human resources employment data (names, addresses, etc.) are sensitive, the data captured by employee monitoring software are rarely addressed directly. Monitoring solutions that capture computer usage data may unknowingly track data that belongs to sensitive categories by the GDPR and data privacy regulations.

Biometric Information

Under the target of GDPR-sensitive categories, internet usage data that includes websites visited and search engine queries are likely to contain identifiers in these categories. Suppose the captured data is not sufficiently anonymized. In that case, a negligent breach of this data may lead to legal sanctions under both the GDPR and the CCPA, depending on the employee's location and nationality.

Monitoring Principles for Data Confidentiality

It is essential to ensure the confidentiality and security of the data collected by the employee monitoring software. The principle will help you implement an employee monitoring strategy that meets the business's critical objectives without unnecessarily compromising your employees' confidentiality.

Clearly define monitoring objectives.

For successful monitoring, you should clearly define the objectives of monitoring; it is the proactive method for respecting privacy. An explicit understanding of monitoring objectives is often mandatory. Without clearly defined objectives, a company will not establish that employee supervision serves its legitimate interest while respecting the principle of proportionality.


One of the basic principles of the main mandates of data confidentiality is proportionality. For an employee to monitor their workers, any monitoring activity that is carried out must have a legitimate commercial interest that would certainly outweigh any potential harm to employees' privacy rights.

The GDPR strongly emphasizes that the privacy rights of the data subject are essential, clearly indicating that monitoring should be limited to the minimum necessary to achieve your business objectives. If you want to utilize the new monitoring technologies for the employee, you must conduct an impact assessment that will clearly document the potential effects on privacy that the proposed technology will have on employees.

Make sure your monitoring is completely transparent.

Even if your business is subject to less stringent transparency requirements than those required by the GDPR, according to a Survey by Harris, 77% of Americans said they would be less concerned with monitoring their digital activities if their employer was fully transparent and engaged.

Trying to monitor your employees without prior knowledge will damage your company's reputation and significantly increase employee turnover - 70% of Harris Poll concluded that employees indicated that they would consider quitting if they found out that the monitoring was done without their knowledge.


Data confidentiality obligations are constantly evolving. As clarifications on current legislation become clearer, the employer's role as a data controller is expected to become increasingly clear. The growing demands for control over access to personal data are expected to significantly impact the adoption of federal privacy policies that could reasonably expect to be affected by the GDPR. If you are not yet using employee monitoring technology that has privacy according to GDPR, you better be prepared to adapt to it.


Written by: Girish Rohra Chawla

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