detective.gifFor years, employers have monitored their employees phone calls and computer use but I have yet to hear a corporate board member make hay over the practice.

Privacy rights advocates have been complaining about such spying for more than a decade but when the snooping involves employees the subject rarely gets the cover of Newsweek or top billing on TV newscasts.

Newsweek’s cover story this week “Scandal at HP: The Boss Who Spied on Her Board.” The story discusses how the head of HP’s board Patricia Dunn could allow the horrible practice of spying on other board members and getting access to their phone records to determine which one leaked company information to the media.

This afternoon comes word Dunn is out as chairwoman of HP, taking the fall for the scandal and the ire of board members.

“The invasion of my privacy and that of others was ill-conceived and inconsistent with HP’s values,” complains George Keyworth, the board member who it turns out was the company leaker, and who also resigned from the board.

Welcome to the world of employees George.

According to a 2005 American Management Association study, about 75 percent of employers monitored their worker’s web surfing and more than half spy on electronic mail messages. Employers often listen in on employee telephone conversations, especially when it involves customer service over the phone, but managers are supposed to hang up when they realize the conversation is personal. But that still means they can listen in long enough to figure out if the convo is personal or not.

I guess what’s good for the goose isn’t good for the gander.

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