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Man Says His Company Is Making Him Download An App That Monitors His Location, Texts, Photos & Internet History On His Personal Phone

Photo: Zen Chung / Pexels
Man on his cell phone

The ongoing battle between employers and employers has seen managers refusing to accept resignations and long-term employees ghosting their bosses without a word. With so much tit for tat, it’s no wonder there is a severe lack of trust between both parties.

Nevertheless, it’s still surprising when a manager uses their mistrust of employees to overstep their bounds and infringe on employees’ privacy. This is exactly what happened to one man who recently took to the r/legaladvice subreddit to ask for advice.

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The company he works for announced employees would have to download an app that 'monitors all phone usage.'

According to the California man, the company wanted access to all facets of his cell phone use including texts, social median, calls, photos, internet history, and app usage.

It might have been reasonable had the company wanted to view information on a phone they had provided, but shockingly, the worker claimed that it was his personal phone his job wanted to dig through. Not only were they interested in monitoring his use during work hours but wanted to continue surveilling him during his time off.

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As expected, the violation of privacy raised red flags in the employee’s mind, and he was 100% sure that some code of ethics was being violated so he reached out to other Redditors for advice on how to proceed.

The first person to comment pointed out, “Cali has special laws on this. Discuss whether you should pick up a burner and bill it to the company, or whether they would rather issue you one.” He went on to tell the man that if his employer is insistent on having access to his phone, they need to compensate him to get a replacement for his personal use or simply provide a company phone.

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In California, it is absolutely required that employers reimburse employees for cell phone use, and it would be much less complicated for them to provide a dedicated line to employees instead of sorting out what percentage of the usage is work-related.

Overall, your employer cannot monitor your usage on a personal cell phone or laptop without your consent, so it’s important that you know your rights and stand up to any violation of privacy.

If you have a laptop for work and have been assigned a phone for usage, it is completely legal for your employer to monitor your usage, and with working remotely in full swing, there is a high probability that they are doing just that. Most state and federal laws allow employers to monitor anything they do on company-owned devices, especially when it happens in the course of doing business.

But workers and companies are going to need to find a common ground when it comes to watching employees. 74% of those who perform remote work are concerned they are being monitored and micromanaged and 64% say they have deleted their browsing history over privacy concerns.

To start rebuilding trust, managers should trust employees to do the work they were hired to perform, have clear and concise communication, and allow room to be corrected because no matter where you fall in the work hierarchy, you are not always right.

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NyRee Ausler is a writer from Seattle, Washington, and author of seven books. She covers lifestyle and entertainment and news, as well as navigating the workplace and social issues.