Bosses use spy software on workers in China, says report

Government-backed Web site report says employers are carrying out browser checks on staff

Some firms in Wenzhou, a region in Eastern China, are using spy software to monitor their employees' online activities, according to a report on Eastday.com, an official Web site backed by the Shanghai government.

The issue has stirred up heated debate over the issue of employee privacy.

The "magic spy" software used by the enterprises in Wenzhou, a port city of Zhejiang province, allowed supervisors to monitor employees' activities on the Internet by conducting browser checks, the Web site report said.

According to statistics, many employees play the stock market or Internet games at work. At least ten Wenzhou companies have installed the software to curb these activities during work hours.

An employee of a Wenzhou joint venture said the practice violated privacy rights because supervisors could monitor employees' personal email. Using the software was just like opening others' office desk drawers without permission, according to some other employees. Meanwhile, enterprise managers argued that company facilities were for work purposes, not for employees' private use.

Privacy rights refer to issues involving workers' personal identities and private lives while companies have the responsibility to monitor employee performance, the report quoted Chou Jiansheng, a lawyer in Zhejiang province, as saying.

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