Most Brits unaware their boss could be snooping on private messages

Messaging app

The majority of employees in the UK send private messages with personal content from the workplace, blissfully unaware that their bosses could be monitoring these communications.

According to a new survey of a thousand people commissioned by tech career website Dice, no less than 69% of workers admit to sending regular private emails, texts and instant messages (from the likes of Facebook Messenger) during the working day – and some of those folks are sending up to as many as a hundred private messages on a daily basis.

Those in the 16 to 24-year-old bracket are the most prolific message-senders, and almost everyone in this age group – 96% of them – admitted to sending personal messages from work.

However, based on a European Court of Human Rights ruling made back at the beginning of this year, employers can be entitled to monitor private messages – although only if they're sent using a work device. A good deal of folks, 42% of respondents to be precise, weren't aware of this fact.

Job hunting

And should employers be snooping, they will no doubt find some interesting material to peruse, given that 40% of staff said they sent messages concerning searching for a new job.

Also, 9% said they discussed private relationship matters or flirted with colleagues in these messages, and 30% admitted they'd been online shopping during work time.

When made aware of the European ruling and its implications for monitoring, 27% were angry and claimed this was an invasion of their privacy, and 18% felt it was a breach of their human rights. However, having been made aware of the issues here, half of respondents said it still wouldn't change their behaviour at work.

Jamie Bowler, Marketing Director, Dice Europe, commented: "It's clear that many people aren't aware of their workplace policies around private messaging and internet use, which could get them into trouble if they are monitored and get caught saying or doing something they shouldn't.

"Rules vary from workplace to workplace, so it's always best to adhere to company policies, rather than ignore them and suffer the consequences."

The European ruling from back in January judged that an employer has a right to check whether staff are engaged in work-related tasks during working hours, provided as previously noted that it's company hardware the employee is messaging from. However, the judges did add that workers should be protected against "unfettered snooping".

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).