The solution to RIP, email sackings and Big Brother
Or we could just run around in a frenzy for another year
The last six months have been a terrible time for Internet users in the UK. The RIP Act is obviously the worst of it - the government has given itself almost unbelievable powers of access to people's communication and then gone out of its way to make it as non-answerable to the public as possible.
Guidelines for using RIP still haven't appeared - the laws are there of course - and this has sparked another serious problem. The battle between employers and employees over what each is entitled to look at or withhold. Bosses reckon they should access to everything their staff do in company hours, unsurprisingly. Unsurprisingly, staff see this as Big Brother in the workplace. Besides aren't people entitled to privacy at work or did they sell their soul with their salary?
Then of course there's the Human Rights Act, which guarantees privacy to every individual. How does this fit in with the other new laws? And then there's the recent mess with corporate email and porn. The Claire Swire case justified the fears of the paranoid and caused a large number of companies to suspend staff for "abusing" email systems to bring home to people that they must be careful. It came to a head when Royal & SunAlliance actually fired staff for a smutty cartoon.
So far, no one has ventured a solution to all this. And if we're not mistaken, shouting and moaning rarely resolve complex problems. And so The Register would like to offer its own pub-inspired solution to all this. It's not going to be perfect, but it's a damn sight better than taking everything to the courts and firing staff.
The fundamental aspect of this solution is very simple: you give staff two email accounts. Not that complicated with modern technology and the cost of it is not that great and will be easily made up by not firing/hiring staff, goodwill to staff etc etc.
Two email servers. Two accounts. One corporate, one private. All corporate matters have to go through the corporate account. All private matters through the private account. The corporate account is monitored in its entirety - every word can be read if so wished. Any abuse of it is punishable. The private account can be monitored only for traffic. Staff are warned if their use of it is excessive.
The two accounts are clear from the address. Something like firstname.lastname@example.org. In this way it should be legally safe and people will grasp that the email simply comes from a person that happens to work at that company. Bosses get control over their business, staff get their privacy. The government is pressured by business to adopt an approach with RIP that is compatible with the two-account system.
Big downloads? Covered under traffic monitoring. Smutty cartoons? None of the company's bloody business to be honest. Why should it be? Well, whaddaya reckon? Let me know. ®