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Is your boss monitoring your e-mail?

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If you're working for a U.S. company, there's a good chance you're being watched--and you may get fired for how you use your computer or office phone.

That's the gist of a study on electronic monitoring and surveillance released Wednesday by the American Management Association and the ePolicy Institute.

The report found that companies increasingly are "putting teeth in technology policies." About a quarter of employers have fired workers for misusing the Internet; another 25 percent have terminated employees for e-mail misuse; and 6 percent have fired employees for misusing office telephones, according to the report.

"Concern over litigation and the role electronic evidence plays in lawsuits and regulatory investigations has spurred more employers to implement electronic technology policies," Nancy Flynn, executive director of the ePolicy Institute, said in a statement.
Although liability and regulatory issues may be convincing companies to peek in on their employees, such surveillance raises privacy concerns. Employers can monitor workers to a greater degree these days, thanks to newer technologies such as keystroke-logging software and satellite global positioning systems that can track a cell phone user's whereabouts.

The survey, which involved 526 U.S. companies, found that 5 percent use GPS technology to monitor cell phones and 8 percent use GPS to track company vehicles. About 75 percent of companies monitor workers' Web site connections, and 65 percent use software to block connections to inappropriate Web sites.

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