×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Keystroke Logging Declared Illegal in Alberta

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the naughty-canucks dept.

Privacy 310

Meshach writes "The Globe and Mail has a story about how keystroke logging has been declared illegal in Alberta Canada. The ruling applies to companies using logging as a means to track employees." From the article: " The employee, who was not named, worked as a computer technician for six months in 2004. Ms. Silver said it was a job where productivity was hard to measure. 'We thought that using an objective check through the computer would be the most fair and objective way to do that,' she said Wednesday."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

310 comments

Poop recording declared illegal (-1, Offtopic)

DroopyStonx (683090) | more than 8 years ago | (#13006911)

In poop county new mexico.

Re:Poop recording declared illegal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007075)

We thought that using an objective check through the computer would be the most fair and objective way to do that

It sure is.

asdfghjklasdfghjkl
asdfghjklasdfghjkl

Could be ok (2, Funny)

Alex P Keaton in da (882660) | more than 8 years ago | (#13006912)

There are times when keystroke logging could be appropriate, like if you are in data entry- and they need to see how many wpms you are at.
I for one expect no privacy at work, because I am being paid and am using their equipment. Then again, the toilet belongs to my company, and I don't want them watching me pinch a loaf....

Re:Could be ok (4, Insightful)

Asgard (60200) | more than 8 years ago | (#13006966)

Logging > counting, if you want wpm just count the # of clicks, not record the content.

Don't believe it. (3, Funny)

ShaniaTwain (197446) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007067)

clearly the 'productivity' excuse is just a smoke screen, and their real goal is finding good free porn.

I want the job where they have no measure of your days work other than the number of times a key was pressed:

1.turn on key repeat
2.leave heavy book laying on keyboard
3.take rest of the week off and PROFIT!

Re:Don't believe it. (1)

vspazv (578657) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007300)

Reminds me of the alladvantage.com advertising toolbar a few years ago. Everyone just got programs to move the mouse and collect money.

I actually got two checks from them before they shut down.

US centric thinking? (4, Interesting)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007023)

In the USA this type of activity is permitted in most situations. Canada has privacy protections for individuals which seem to limit this type of monitoring.

[sarcasm]Why not let the employer and police monitor everything you do? You only have something to hide if you are a criminal.[/sarcasm]

Re:US centric thinking? (1)

mc6809e (214243) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007192)

[sarcasm]Why not let the employer and police monitor everything you do? You only have something to hide if you are a criminal.[/sarcasm]

[sarcasm]And why not simply let the government control the conduct of every business and every economic relationship?

They know what's best for all of us, afterall.[/sarcasm]

Re:US centric thinking? (3, Insightful)

sp0rk173 (609022) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007230)

Well, when deciding between a business and the government, i'll trust the government long before i trust a business. And I never trust the government.

Re:Could be ok (3, Funny)

Strange_Attractor (160407) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007060)

the toilet belongs to my company, and I don't want them watching me pinch a loaf

So, you ARE against monitoring vis a vis logging!

Re:Could be ok (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007086)

HAR HAR HR ;.)

Drop'n logs.

Re:Could be ok (1)

PacketScan (797299) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007061)

That is my thought exactly.. I do not own this hardware the company that employees me owns the equipment. Therefor i have no privary nor do i expect any.

You're not thinking about what privacy means (5, Insightful)

AllenChristopher (679129) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007251)

Could you reasonably be expected, as part of your job, to purchase something and then be reimbursed by the company? For example, might you have a business lunch?

In order to pay for that business lunch, might you have to log into your bank account?

In the perfomance of this work-related duty, is it fair that the network admin for your company now has your bank id and password, which would allow him, if he liked, to take your life savings and those of fellow employees who did the same, then run to Aruba?

Keystroke logging records passwords. No matter how scrupulous you are about not discussing your sex life on work time, any non-work passwords must remain sacrosanct. Keystroke logging goes over the line.

Re:Could be ok (1)

Cromac (610264) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007088)

If they're doing data entry why would they need a key logger to see how productive they are? Just check to see how much data they entered. Any data that gets entered should be tagged for who entered it and when so it it should (unless the company is stupid) be easy to track how much a given employee has added without keyloggers.

Re:Could be ok (2, Funny)

jimbolauski (882977) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007177)

Since the company is storing the keystrokes in the form of data aren't they logging it all ready. I would love to be a lawyer in Canada right now I would be filthy rich.

Re:Could be ok (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007214)

At the current conversion rate, this would be "flat broke" in American Dollars. /daily troll

Re:Could be ok (4, Insightful)

l2718 (514756) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007152)

There are times when keystroke logging could be appropriate, like if you are in data entry- and they need to see how many wpms you are at.

Keystroke logging means recording your keystrokes, not simply counting them. I would say that if company policy was "your computer use may be monitored", they should be able to do so -- if you won't like this clause, you don't have to work there. Persumably this will lead to a compromise, especially if workers negotiate their contracts jointly.

As a brother post says, this is more-or-less the situation in the US, but not in Canada. There, privacy is a constitutional right which even private businesses have to respect. However, note that the ruling doesn't say that all logging is wrong -- just that in this case, there were less intrusive ways to evaluate the performance of that employee. Government regulation is another way to balance the competing concerns of the company and the individual.

Re:Could be ok (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007241)

I agree, a company has no right to be logging my Logs, even if they own the toilet...

We thought that using an objective check through t (2, Funny)

AEton (654737) | more than 8 years ago | (#13006913)

"We thought that using an objective check through the computer would be the most fair and objective way to do that,' she said Wednesday."

That's all very well, but did she say it objectively? I have to know.

Performance (0, Flamebait)

turtled (845180) | more than 8 years ago | (#13006928)

"...The ruling applies to companies using logging as a means to track employees."

Was there a performance issue for this coworker? You are on company machines, I don't see a problem with it.

Re:Performance (1)

Trigun (685027) | more than 8 years ago | (#13006982)

if it is a performance issue, then simply counting the keystrokes per minute would be enough, without actually catching the keys. But, by the same token, just checking daily output would be easier.

Re:Performance (2, Insightful)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007245)

If I own an ATM, should I be able to keylog your ATM password?

Ownership doesn't have a fucking single thing to do with it. I assume that where you work, the land is privately owned. Is the owner of that property allowed to do things to you that are against the law? No.

This ownership bullshit is such a weak argument, especially since it appears that the extention of the argument is that the government apparently shouldn't be able to create laws that dictate the way people treat folks who use their private property. The law supercededs ownership rights, and thank for that, otherwise we'd have a tough time going after child pornographers, drug labs, etc on private property.

But hey, if you support the notion that the laws should be set around the singular wants of private owners, you're invited to my house for a beati - er, tea party.

I see several (1)

jd (1658) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007314)

And they have nothing to do with the privacy concerns. Every application you run is a potential source of system exploits, memory leaks and other serious IT issues. It's also of non-zero size, takes up at least one thread on the CPU, messes with IRQ vectors, consumes CPU cycles and kills keystroke injection systems when you need scripts to operate with applications that can't pipe I/O.


Because keystroke loggers are often invisible on the process table, they can be a "safe haven" for viruses and other malware - non-priv software won't detect them, so can't inform you of them. A real concern, when you consider that buffer overflows are a major source of vulnerabilities and loggers are going to have to do buffered I/O.


Now, onto the politics and privacy issues. Any company trading with Europe that also does keystroke logging COULD violate EU law on privacy, even if it is not in Europe. (EU law prohibits the transfer of personal data to countries that don't protect that data against copying and use that violates the originator's privacy. You don't know who has access to the keystroke logs and the originator certainly won't. That means, US companies can't guarantee compliance, which means those companies trade with the EU on a semi-legal to illegal basis.)


Also, if the workplace is so politicized and so badly managed that it is actually necessary to know what is typed in order to do anything, the company has bigger problems than the user they are monitoring. Companies are like organisms - if an organism's brain tried to managed ALL the internal functions of EVERY cell in the organism, it would probably explode. Either that, or be very, very inefficient. And chronically codependent, but that's more a corporate mental illness than a political or privacy concern.

Fox news... (2, Insightful)

chill (34294) | more than 8 years ago | (#13006930)

The first thing that popped into my head when I read this line "...the most fair and objective way..." was Fox News and their "fair and balanced" reporting.

What crackhead honestly thinks keystroke logging is "fair and objective"?

monitoring (5, Interesting)

Quasar1999 (520073) | more than 8 years ago | (#13006932)

I don't much mind if an employer of mine monitors what I'm doing at work while being paid. In my specific line of work, sometimes I'm asked to stay late to finish a project or meet a deadline. In exchange for doing this, I expect (and receive) a reasonable tolerance of doing personal things (like surfing to slashdot) during normal working hours. But if I started doing no work, and the employer didn't have to wait until my project got screwed, and the deadline missed by months before realising that I'm not working, then I say it's well worth it. Even more so if they get one of my coworkers, since that saves me work in the long term... Privacy be damned, as long as it's not abused, I welcome it.

There in lies the rub.. (5, Insightful)

Chris_Stankowitz (612232) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007012)

Privacy be damned, as long as it's not abused, I welcome it.

It *will* be abused and there is no ifs, ands or buts about it. CS-

Re:There in lies the rub.. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007223)

Who do you work for, a literal pointy-haired boss? I have no problem with work monitoring either because, as the parent post said--it saves me work in the long run.

I know I work hard and work efficently and I am good at my job. But I'm also an introvert who doesn't drawn too much attention. Let an impartial work monitoring system demonstrate who's pulling the slack.

Re:monitoring (2, Insightful)

Digital_Quartz (75366) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007084)

Monitoring your employees productivity is one thing. Keystroke logging is quite another. My employer does not need to know every key I press in order to decide whether or not I am productive.

If I write an email to my wife that says "I love you snugglywugglykins!", my employer definately doesn't need to see that. You can say "It's the employer's equipment, they have a right to do what they want," but that isn't true. Your employer, for example, can't tap your phone without your knowledge. They CAN record your phone conversations, but they have to let both parties of the phone call know it is being recorded ahead of time ("This call may be recorded for quality purposes."). I don't see how secretly recording my keystrokes, which effectively taps all my email, is any different.

Perhaps if the library here had told their employee "We're going to start recording your keystrokes to measure your productivity," and the employee had agreed, that would be a different matter.

You should mind (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007139)

The problem with keystroke logging is how completely pervasive it is.

It's one thing to say "We'll read all your e-mail, and any files you save." That's reasonably "what you're doing on the company network."

On the other hand, suppose you get a phone call on your cell with fairly personal information. Your doctor's phoned you up to tell you the name of the clinic to get your AIDS treated at, for example.

It's not reasonable to say "employees shouldn't take calls like that during work," because doctor's offices run the same work hours as everyone else. So you take the call, you have to write down the name of the clinic. Ok, so you pop open notepad.exe to do it. You're going to write it down after, but the doc's talking fast enough, you don't have the writing skill to do it on paper.

You *know* it would be stupid to save this file on the company network, or e-mail it to yourself. But with a keystroke logger, even though you haven't saved it, it's recorded.

There are a hundred things like this. Who hasn't gotten a phone call from his or her boss, some extraordinarily irritating interference, and typed into his or her code "I would strangle this man if he weren't in charge of my paycheck..." then deleted it?

Finally, and most importantly, keystroke loggers intercept passwords. While it may be fine to check up on what your employees are doing at work, it is abhorrent to destroy their security on every single site they might visit.

Moreover, that information is not magically placed in the hands of "The Company." The Company is not a person. The administrator is a person, and while you as an employer may trust that administrator with corporate records, your employees have a right to have their bank account passwords kept out of that administrator's hands.

Computers are, at this point, far too much an extension of our minds to log every single keystroke. It's just too detailed, too internal. There are far too many easy ways to check employee productivity without resorting to this intimate spying.

In almost all cases, you can check employee productivity by watching out for sol.exe, checking the weblogs for things like slashdot or porn, and seeing whether the employee's work actually gets done.

The ends don't justify the means in this case. Keystroke logging is insane.

Re:monitoring (1)

snakecoder (235259) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007310)

>>In exchange for doing this, I expect (and receive) a reasonable tolerance of doing personal things (like surfing to slashdot)

>>Privacy be damned, as long as it's not abused, I welcome it.

Keep in mind that they will be collecting your passwords, credit card information, etc ...

The two points that you have brought up seem to conflict.

Darn it. (1, Funny)

brainus (804653) | more than 8 years ago | (#13006933)

They should apologize to all of the people who have to disengage their keylogging operations in Alberta.

w00t (0, Offtopic)

RancidLM (723035) | more than 8 years ago | (#13006939)

Nice!

(5 keys Strokes detected..)

DRM it... (1)

essreenim (647659) | more than 8 years ago | (#13006999)

Fair enough, but with all the crap about DRM devices to reduce privacy, it's clear that your personal right to privacy DOES NOT MATTER

What about forcing DRM for keyboards. Unique driver for a DRM'd keyboard - no privacy problems then

Here anything about this? I haven't but let me know.

Odd. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13006940)

So what else can you not do in Alberta with computers you, you know, technically own?

Can you track what programs your employees run? Can you track what websites they visit?

And does this apply to anyone who owns a computer, or just businesses with employees? Like what if you own a web kiosk in a public place, or you lend your personal computer to a friend? Can you log keystrokes from that?

Just as odd as wiretapping laws (4, Informative)

Digital_Quartz (75366) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007104)

You can't tap a phone you "technically own" either, not even in the US. If you want to record a phone conversation, you have to let both parties know. Nothing odd about that.

Just as odd as wiretapping laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007269)

Nothing odd about that.

No, in fact it's extremely odd.

Re:Odd. (1)

Stoutlimb (143245) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007218)

I like the analogy of what employers can and cannot do with toilets they own. Webcams and logging software would be a bad thing.

Discrimination (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13006944)

In this productivity assement, fatties would have an advantage, what with all the mashing of the hands against the keyboard.

Obligatory Simpsons quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007226)

"The fingers you have used to dial are too fat. To obtain a special dialing wand, please mash the keypad with the palm of your hand now."

In response, companies have switched to... (4, Funny)

Enigma_Man (756516) | more than 8 years ago | (#13006946)

taking screen captures every 5 seconds on any employee computer under surveilance.

-Jesse

Re:In response, companies have switched to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007161)

This is actually not all that funny.

My previous employer, a division of a giant German company who shall remain nameless, was in the process of doing proof of concept of pretty much the same solution (ie: screen scraping at periodic intervals) to monitor employees in the months before I left.

Re:In response, companies have switched to... (1)

CompuSwerve (792986) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007253)

That's still a lot better than capturing passwords, isn't it? Screen scraping at least won't give away the keys to the castle, whereas keylogging gives away everything. Not that I agree with either one, but it's a lesser evil anyway.

Aboot time. (2, Funny)

QuantumPion (805098) | more than 8 years ago | (#13006950)

I guess we will be seeing a lot more of daytime comments from Albertia now, eh? ;)

Re:Aboot time. (1)

PakProtector (115173) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007209)

What is this 'daytime' of which you speak? I know it not, in this, our Frozen Land of the North. Perchance is it related to the dreaded 'Daystar,' of which some speak in hushed tones, a scorching ball of fire hell-sent to roast our pale nerd flesh?

This is great news... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13006957)

Now I can cyber at work without fear!

Six Years Ago (4, Insightful)

DanielMarkham (765899) | more than 8 years ago | (#13006958)

Six years ago, I was contacted by a stock brokerage company in New York. They were looking for ways to track the computer use (of their developers, I believe. I think they were concerned about Internet Surfing) Like a dummy, I rambled off some ideas that could help them track usage without the employees noticing it. At the time, I thought it was a very strange call! Why would anybody secretly want to know what their employees were doing? Didn't they trust them? I never heard back from the people, and I always thought that I had "given away too much" by specifiying the programming during the interview.
Now that weird scenario has become all too commonplace, and it's just as secret as I feared. FTA, "When the employee discovered that he had been monitored, he lodged a complaint with Alberta's information and privacy commissioner."
The guy didn't even know the software was there. Now it's one thing to tell people "We're watching you. This will go on your evaluation" It's another thing entirely to do it secretly.
In the present day, clients are modeling their business practices more and more, and would like a way to track metrics. I'm all for it: if I were a businessperson or employee, I wouldn't have a problem with my boss measuring how long it took to do my work. Where I surfed during my lunch hour? Forget it. But my productivity? Sure.


Welcome To My World [whattofix.com]

Re:Six Years Ago (1)

MoonFog (586818) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007043)

But can it always be measured like this? If we put aside busphrases such as "Work smarter, not harder", there's still a point there that your WPM may not show just how much work you've put into something. I often sit back and think and take some notes on paper when about to write an algorithm.

I may have misunderstood this whole issue, but I really don't see productivity being measured simply be registering keystrokes.

Re:Six Years Ago (1)

MrShaggy (683273) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007143)

As long as you were being made aware of what the steps were that they were taking. If you work at a coffee shop, they have to tell you that there are cameras above the counters. Not only to protect you against employe theft, but also to ensure there protection as well, if soemone else is stealing, or there is a problem with someone coming in and causing issues. IANAL but if someone can sue over that, cant you sue over privacy when someone stoles VISAs card info ? Shagz

heartless bastards (4, Funny)

0110011001110101 (881374) | more than 8 years ago | (#13006967)

And I thought clearcutting and logging of our national forests was bad....

Take up arms! Our nations keyboards are in jeopardy due to these evil logging tactics, soon our keystroke supply will exist only in preserved forests and small wildlife areas.

Re:heartless bastards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007034)

Oh, we don't get to be graced by you copying and pasting the entire article text this time?

Pitty.

However, maybe you should just stick to copying and pasting articles since all of your other posts lack any content whatsoever.

Re:heartless bastards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007186)

Hey I'm damn good at that... I mean do you realize I have to manually put in an HTML paragraph break between each paragraph before submitting?

I'm not sure you've thought over what a valuable service I provide...

In the end, don't blame me, blame the moderators for spooning out karma for my regurgitation. I mean I don't end up any better for it, lord knows my "content lacking" post karma makes up for any karma whored in the end....

Re:heartless bastards (2, Funny)

stienman (51024) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007098)


Amen brother! I, for one, will start keyboard sitting to protect this ancient keyboard from the loggers!

alsjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj

Re:heartless bastards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007101)

awwww.. another /.er who doesn't like me...

guess tonight will go just like every other night... crying myself to sleep on my giant karma whoring pillow.

Questionable results... (2, Interesting)

hesiod (111176) | more than 8 years ago | (#13006968)

If keylogging is declared illegal, how much of a stretch would it be to declare that scanning EMails or even net traffic for inappropriate material is illegal?

Re:Questionable results... (3, Funny)

mellon (7048) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007066)

Remember, kids, if keylogging is declared illegal, soon only criminals will have keyloggers....

Re:Questionable results... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007222)

Remember, kids, if lockpicking is declared illegal, soon only criminals will have lockpicks....

Illegal? How about some form of discrimination? (1)

concept10 (877921) | more than 8 years ago | (#13006985)


Not only should this be illegal but I believe it should be a form of discrimination.

Why was the employee in question the only person to be monitored? This a a clear case of bad leadership and they need to find another method of evaluating performance.

Maybe they could have asked the guy to keep logs of his perforemed work.

Gotta rethink things (2, Interesting)

dtfinch (661405) | more than 8 years ago | (#13006990)

There goes my idea of logging all keystrokes, mouse movement, and monochrome screenshots every minute from every system on the network thru VNC. I calculated that I could get it all down to only 200mb per day for 25 systems. A 250gb hard drive could hold many years of this data.

Re:Gotta rethink things (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007058)

What about 3.5 years? That's not "many years" to me.

My work day keystrock log... (3, Funny)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007001)

http://slashdot.org/ [slashdot.org]
(refresh clicked)
(refresh clicked)
(refresh clicked)
(refresh clicked)
(refresh clicked)
(refresh clicked) ...
(refresh clicked)
(refresh clicked)

Re:My work day keystrock log... (2, Funny)

FrontalLobe (897758) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007025)

Hey... You're logging my keystrokes, arent you? That's it... I'm moving to Alberta

EASY SOLUTION (2, Interesting)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007278)

If only keystrokes are logged, try:

abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz 0123456789 http : // . com org (insert custom signs here)

and save it into "test.txt". Then it's only matter of copying and pasting text. You can use the mouse if you want.
results: Shift, right, ctrl-c, right right right right... etc.

It's not that there aren't workarounds. It's just that they haven't been found yet.

This is important (2, Funny)

krell (896769) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007008)

' The ruling applies to companies using logging as a means to track employees. '


This is especially important in the north woods, where bosses of some tech firms commonly threaten to discipline employees by putting them on lumberjack duty. It can really keep them on track.

They claimed to not look at the content... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007017)

...which is bullshit.

If you try to determine productivity by simply counting keystrokes, someone who's chatting with a bunch of friends all day on AIM looks significantly more productive than someone, say, doing work-related data entry. You almost HAVE to look at the keystrokes to see what's going on, or failing that, monitor some other aspect of the computer use in conjunction with keystrokes to best determine what apps are being used and how frequently.

Hard to measure productivity? (4, Insightful)

wfberg (24378) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007018)

"We thought that using an objective check through the computer would be the most fair and objective way to do that,' she said Wednesday."


Sounds reasonable. Except for one thing. Why did they hire some one for this job? What problem needed to be solved? Did that problem get solved?


Presumably the problem was that not enough people were typing. So they hired some one to type, and measured the typing, right?


They should've hired some guys off of IRC. They type a lot.

No keystroke logging where I work (4, Funny)

back@slash (176564) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007019)

This doesn't affect me one bit. I know that there is no keystroke logging where I work. The sys admins here are complete idiots and have their heads so far up their ass they wouldn't know how to implement key logg&*%$^

!NO CARRIER

As Ratbert says.... (2, Insightful)

buckthorn (40295) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007020)

"How did people ever look busy before computers?"

But to make this acutally substantive, I have a hard time imagining a job where keystroke logging, even just for counting purposes, is the ONLY way to track productivity. Productivity implies you are producing something, making progress somewhere. That has to be trackable somehow. If nothing else, make the guy account for his time in certain increments. I know that's not a great thing to do and not foolproof either, but what I'm saying is there have to be better, more objective, more thorough solutions that counting keystrokes. If not, I'll just jam down my Enter key and take a 3 hour lunch.

Right... (2, Interesting)

xstonedogx (814876) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007036)

'We thought that using an objective check through the computer would be the most fair and objective way to do that,' she said Wednesday."

Because the amount of typing is a sure indicator of productivity. /sarcasm

Sorry, but about the only thing it will tell you is whether someone is spending time using email, message boards, and instant messages for personal use.

And it's poor at that, because unless they're doing A LOT of non-work related typing, you don't really know how much time they're spending doing non-work related stuff. We all type at different speeds. Maybe it's all on their lunch hour.

Besides, you can check all that stuff in other, less intrusive ways.

Objective? Please. Except in obvious cases (like data entry as another poster mentioned) this requires subjective review by its very nature.

Child labour in Alberta (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007046)

So it is legal to make kids as young as 12 [edmonton.cbc.ca] work in menial jobs that companies in Alberta are having trouble finding adults for, so long as they don't log their keyboards!

Hurray!

Re:Child labour in Alberta (2, Interesting)

agraupe (769778) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007236)

No, you can't *make* them work. But you can hire them, provided that they want the job. I don't see why this should be against the law. I know a lot of kids my age (~16) that break the labour laws of their own free will so they can make more money. It works out well for everyone involved.

Keylogging, but they didn't look at the logs? (1)

stefanlasiewski (63134) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007069)

managers never looked at any of the computer files that were logged.

So if they were keylogging, but weren't looking at the logs what were they looking at? Number of keystrokes? Counting keystokes isn't a great way to measure performance, because it penalizes people who are more proficient at the keyboard.

We don't know the details of the case, but it seems like the employeers said that they were using a keylogger to measure performance. This is doubtful, because there are many better ways to measure performance (Did the job get done?).

It's more likely that they were trying to monitor the actual activites of the employee.

From An Administrator (4, Insightful)

SenFo (761716) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007077)

In addition to writing software for the company I work for, I am also the system administrator. And I have been working in the IT world for about 6 years now. In that time, I have never read another persons email. I have never gone through their personal files. This is, of course, unless asked to do so by the owner of said objects. And to this day, I still find it completely ridiculous that anybody would find it necessary to spy on their users/employees by means of logging all keystrokes.

I believe that if a person cannot be trusted to perform the operations (s)he was assigned to, that they have no business working in the same company as me, in the first place. Maybe I'm too trusting. I don't know. But what I do know is that I am respected by my coworkers for being fair and not letting my power go to my head.

Having said that, I wish key logging were illegal in all states. IMHO, certain people need to lighten up.

Re:From An Administrator (1)

Iriel (810009) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007198)

I think that people should be able to trust their employees also. Despite another post I've made on this topic, I'm not a fan of keystoke logging. On the other hand, in large companies, it can be difficult for a small group of managers or admins to oversee the productivity of a great number of workers. The name of the game in competetive american business is still 'productivity'. If you're not pulling more weight than your cubicle partner, then your partner will have more desk space next month. This is not true in all cases, but some companies feel they have to enforce this kind of ethic to counteract the rapidly depleting work ethic in the younger generations. I personally graduated from college with a large number of people who lost their entry level jobs within months because they felt like the world owed them just for having a degree and acted accordingly.

I'm not really a fan of using the logs, but the illusion of it can go a long way to keep otherwise counterproductive people in line.

Shades of grey areas (1)

Iriel (810009) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007085)

This is an interesting issue because, as far as America is concerned, keystroke logging could be warped and molested into an argument about privacy in the workplace in most courts. But where I don't really think it should be illegal is the fact that almost every company I've ever seen details the fact that company computers are to be used only for company work. Conducting personal business is to reprimanded in most cases.

But with cubicle farms being so prevalent in even small offices, you really have no other way to monitor your employees. There really isn't an effective way to block all non-work related websites without letting a few through and blocking some related to clients per se. If keystroke logging is to be illegal, then so should cameras, and network traffic loggers. If employees feel like they're being watched somehow, they're less likely to spend the day playing Yahoo! Games and checking their email. Besides, how can you confront an unproductive employee without proof that they've been breaking the company policy because your logging was banned? It's not so easy then.

Re:Shades of grey areas (1)

The Warlock (701535) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007197)

If employees feel like they're being watched somehow, they're less likely to spend the day playing Yahoo! Games and checking their email.

Or posting on Slashdot?

On a semi-related note, who do you work for right now?

Not precisely illegal (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007107)

The privacy commissioner ruled that the library had been collecting personal information. That's not the same as saying that keystroke logging is illegal. Presumably keystroke logging would be legal if no personal information were collected. The library denied that they actually looked at or used the files other than to confirm activity. The commissioner obviously didn't believe them.

The commissioner didn't say you couldn't monitor employees. He also didn't say that you have to tell employees when you are monitoring them.

This is a pretty narrow ruiling.

The Issue is Trust (4, Insightful)

agent dero (680753) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007113)

The idea of needing to secretly log keystokes on an employee is ludicrous.

If you, as an employer, manager, etc, cannot trust the people below you to do the work you put before them, then why are they your employees?

When it comes to computers at work, I might need to fetch files from home, they'd log my personal passwords, and all other data; that's not only unnecessary, but unfair. I trust them to not snoop my personal data that may be transmitted through a work computer, and they trust me to get my work done.

So that would make it illegal to... (2, Interesting)

MrFreshly (650369) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007126)

So it would make it illegal to have video surveillance too? If you can SEE the keyboard and the keys being pressed...Other than key logging being cheaper and the obvious format differences, what's the difference?

Sounds foolish to log keys (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007128)

Why didn't they just have the employee log the work they did in the day? If you're questioning how they're working why not just make them tell you what they've done in the day. That's MUCH more effective than keylogging, and then not looking at the logs. And for some reason thinking that you're getting an objective view of how much work they're getting done during the day.

Hell, if all they were doing was looking at the size of the file, all the employee would have to do is mash the keyboard for an hour a day to make the log a few hundred kilobytes long. He'd probobly win an award for being so productive.

It should not necessarily be illegal. (1)

pg110404 (836120) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007130)

An employer should have the right to expect reasonable performace from their employees. No one puts a gun to an employer's head saying "employ that person", and no one is putting a gun to the employee saying "work for this person".

The employer should have the right to approach their employees and tell them up front, their work is being monitored. As long as it's done in the open, the employee can't complain about invasion of privacy. If they feel their privacy is threatened, perhaps they are not doing their job. They are after all being paid to do their job. Why then should an employee feel they are being mistreated when the employer finds out through monitoring devices, they are surfing for porn or spending 50% of their time using IM with their friends or doing seriously poor work?

OTOH, as someone else pointed out, I'd expect 100% privacy IN the bathroom or in areas of the building where work is not expected to occur. However, I wouldn't feel overly offended if the boss put up a camera pointing at the bathroom door to see how much time I spent doing my business.

High Schools... (1)

faclonX (759436) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007138)

When I was in high school about 2.5 years ago, the Sysadmin there decided he wanted to install keyloggers on all the computers in
a) The school library (they were also running NetOP to spy on students who were trying to work....)
b) The Cisco Lab (thereby unknowingly to us breaking our signed contracts which stated we would not distribute the cisco networking academy curriculum)
He then gave the password to access these keyloggers to his lackies, who were no more than stupid students, who blatently used these key loggers to steal people's passwords, and get others in trouble...
We never did anything about it, we were going to complain to the board, but we figured no one would listen to us anyways... Now that I think about it, I regret getting that dumbass fired for revealing private information... It could have also contributed to the student records server getting hacked later in that year...
For those wondering, I went to Denis Morris High School

Be Productive for your company (1)

let1 (645804) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007155)

by giving your keyboards to monkeys. Maybe just maybe your company make more profits by selling novels created from the logging.

Make keylogging work for YOU! (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007164)

If you use Firefox, the command to open a URL is Alt-D...then to get to Slashdot (assuming you've loaded it once before), just hit "S" and the URL autofills.

Coincidentally, the command to sort a field of data in an Excel spreadsheet is Alt-D,S.

Only government employees, right? (2, Informative)

SpaceAdmiral (869318) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007176)

I didn't look this up, but I'm pretty sure the Alberta Privacy Commissioner only has authority over government employees/employers.

I think the submitter is wrong: I don't think this ruling has any effect on a private employer. So it's not really "illegal."

Productivity? (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007199)

One thing I have not noticed mentioned yet is that no one is questioning the "productivity" angle. Are not most jobs quantifiable in some way? I mean, this worker was not conjuring spirits or some such? When you hire someone, you usually tell them you need to do such and such, in such amount of time, or something like that. Did they hire this person to perfect the fung shei of the library?

Once again managers, bosses, supervisors not giving a whole lot of thought into what their people are supposed to do and how that work gets evaluated. If you can not figure out an employees productivity fairly easily, then you have problems.

Ok, I see people just itching to reply about writing software, how it's so hard to define progress, how you can not do it just by lines of code per day or functions per week. This is true (mostly), but if you give at least rough timetables for when things should be done, who cares if only one line of code is done on Tuesday if the module is done on Thursday?

My guess, the boss knew the employee had access to better porn and was just trolling to find it.

Mr. Work (1)

jgbishop (861610) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007229)

Does anyone else find it ironic that the name of the commissioner involved in this case is named Mr. Work? Perhaps we should monitor his activity to see what his productivity is like...

Keylogging is not objective. (5, Insightful)

interstellar_donkey (200782) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007277)

By no means should anyone think that keylogging is an "objective" way of measuring performance. Because employee A takes care of all her work and has some free time so she gets online and chats on IRC and employee B spends all day working on the same issues (and still doesn't get them fixed), employee B is not more productive then employee A.

We need to understand that a productive worker is one who makes sure the job is done, and it doesn't matter what he or she does in their downtime. Want to measure the productivity of the tech at the library? Are the computers he is responsible for functioning properly? If yes, he is a productive worker. If it seems like he has too much free time, give him more resposibility. If he struggles with it, can him or lighten his workload.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...