Don't go readin' my texts!..
June 25, 2012 8:04 AM   Subscribe

...they couldn't if they tried? Do employers read text messages on employer paid cell phones?

How likely is it that employers actively monitor text messages of company paid cell phones?

I can see lots of reasons why it would behoove them to do so, albeit in a creepy way. But they could have all this dirt on people and know who was naughty and nice and who was about to get a new job and who drinks too much and so forth. they?

Is there such thing as active monitoring of company paid cell phones? To the point where they routinely have and use the option to read texts? Is this complete paranoia and something that is reserved for uber secure jobsites and not something that your average midrange McCorporation would do?

Any data points? I googled a bit and couldn't find any nuts and bolts answers.

Asking anonymously because I don't want to go on record as being worried about my employer reading my naughty texts. Duh. :P
posted by anonymous to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
It is entirely possible to do. Financial companies are required to do so, and other companies certainly can do so.
posted by procrastination at 8:12 AM on June 25, 2012

posted by hmo at 8:13 AM on June 25, 2012

Yes. (Citation needed? I work in IT.)

For this reason, anything you don't want your employer knowing about you do not do on your employer's computer, network or phone. Use your own toys and connections.
posted by Brian Puccio at 8:16 AM on June 25, 2012

Seconding Yes (with citation of I work in IT)

I know for me personally, when I log on using work hardware/software, I usually have to "agree" to the terms that what I'm doing is for work use only and may be monitored. I have 0 problem with this as I don't pay for it directly and it is for work use.
posted by Twain Device at 8:20 AM on June 25, 2012

As a former compliance officer for a broker/dealer, we were required to monitor all communications and did read a statistically relevant sample. We were looking for instances of violations fo securities laws and regulations, but I often came upon texts from married employees to girlfriends, etc. We only took action on private matters if it was going to affect the business.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:32 AM on June 25, 2012

Yes, this is standard. Do not use work phones for personal information.
posted by odinsdream at 8:37 AM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

What is the good reason why you need to use a company cell phone to conduct personal business? If you use the company cell for personal use, look at it as swapping privacy for convenience.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:38 AM on June 25, 2012

Don't use work systems for any but the most innocuous personal communication. ("Staying late for a meeting, I'll pick the kids up at 5:30.") Not only will it get read, but when your company gets sued, which may well be "seriously every week," a lot of e-mail, text, and other data records get swept up in discovery. My husband worked on a litigation where they read the e-mails of several locally prominent executives who were carrying on affairs (or other shenanigans) from their work e-mails and phones, figuring it would be easier to hide from their wives that way. Which was great, until the case went to trial and some of those e-mails and texts were included in evidence and became public.

Don't send anything non-work-related using work systems that you don't want on the front page of the newspaper. (Also that you don't want your whole IT department, a team of lawyers, and the company's top brass reading.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:57 AM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you are in the U.S. then you should assume any workplace activity can be monitored. If you use a work phone or work computer you should definitely assume that. If you are using a personal device but connect over the workplace network, you should still assume you are being monitored.
posted by chairface at 9:19 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Most likely active monitoring is rare, unless it's required for regulatory reasons. But if a lawsuit hits the company (even one unrelated to your activity), a subpeona can compel the phone company to cough it up.

But it's like email and web activity-- just because it's logged doesn't mean anyone has the time or inclination to Big Brother your activity.
posted by Sunburnt at 9:57 AM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

They can. They probably don't, but they can, so you shouldn't. Same with your work email.

Your employer can read your texts and email on work related devices for any reason. There doesn't have to be a lawsuit for them to look through your messages - the phone belongs to your employer.

It's a risk. You can choose to interpret the degree of risk however you'd like, but if I were you, I'd stick to keeping my work and personal communication devices separate.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 6:29 PM on June 25, 2012

If someone borrowed your cellphone and then sent a text message with it, could they assume you'd never read it? Well, you're borrowing your company's cellphone. And they're very nosy.
posted by blue_beetle at 6:36 PM on June 25, 2012

Just as a data point, I managed the cell phones at my previous company and we didn't monitor anything.
posted by radioamy at 9:07 PM on June 25, 2012

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