General Question

Ranimi23's avatar

Can my workplace monitor the calls and texts I make on a cell phone they provide for me?

Asked by Ranimi23 (1881 points ) October 21st, 2010

We have Information security department in the company and they do track workers. Not to copy things, not to send e-mail with the company’s information out and more. There are even Web sites blocked. But will they have the right to read my private and personal messages I send to my friends for example?

Should I be carefull with my SMS I send?

It is personal thing I think…

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31 Answers

Kayak8's avatar

I would be very careful. I never use my work phone for private calls, text messages, internet browsing of a non-work nature etc. They can and do fire people for misuse of company property.

Seaofclouds's avatar

Ask your employer what their policy is for the work call phone. If it is to be used strictly for work purposes, don’t use it for anything else. It is their property, not yours, and I think they would be able to take it back from you and go through it at any time.

LuckyGuy's avatar

It is their property. They are paying for it. They can get a report of everyone you called or TXTed. .
No doubt there is someone in accounting who is collecting that info. If you want privacy use your own phone.

marinelife's avatar

What ^^^^^ he said.

MrItty's avatar

In a word, yes. If it’s their property, their service, their contracts, they can do whatever they want with it. You have absolutely NO right or expectation of privacy. You are not supposed to be using their phone for personal reasons to begin with, so you shouldn’t be sending personal or inappropriate texts or making personal or inappropriate phone calls. If you want to do that, get your own cellphone.

Joybird's avatar

Yes. They can not only look at every single thing you are doing on that phone including reading your texts but they can also turn on the GPS without your knowledge and track you. I have a friend who does PI work for several corporations in the Rochester area and this is a standard type of practice nowadays. That phone is considered for business use. Carry another for personal use and don’t use your work cell for anything other than work.

fireside's avatar

There are limits to what information an employer can get from your phone account.
For example, they can get a list of all the numbers you call or text, but they cannot get transcripts of the actual tests from the phone provider without a court order.

It is their property though, so they could take it back at any point and read any messages you have stored on the phone.

Best advice is to not use company property for anything personal, within reason. If you are just calling someone to arrange a ride, that shouldn’t matter to the employer. But an depending on the plan they have, they could have to pay extra for texts and even long distance calls that you make.

Ranimi23's avatar

What if I just ERASE all the SMS I get after a while, is there any way they can get these text messages?

I just want it to stay private to me only. Should I warn my friends not to send personal things?

MissPoovey's avatar

There is no ‘personal’ on a non-personal phone.
If you want personal then you need a personal phone.
Company phone is not personal!

bob_'s avatar

@Ranimi23 Even if you delete everything from the phone, it will all be stored in a server, somewhere, accessible by your company.

chyna's avatar

You seem very concerned about what your employer will find or see on your phone. Just to not have to worry about it, use your own phone for everything that is not work related.

Blueroses's avatar

Oh yeah!
I had a work laptop, installed msn and forgot to turn off default “logging”. When the machine went to another employee and I got a new one… oh. my. hell.
You know, nothing really life-changing but embarrassment galore.
Never use your work equipment for anything that wouldn’t be Disney-approved.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

It’s their phone, assume all calls and texts are being monitored. Use your own for personal contacts.

downtide's avatar

I would assume yes, they can and would.

MrItty's avatar

@Ranimi23 the messages are not stored on your phone. They’re stored on the phone company’s servers. Get this through your head – it is not your phone, it is not your account. The company would not need a “court order” to get the messages, as someone else claimed. Because the company OWNS that phone account. They could get a transcript of them just like anyone else could get a transcript of their own messages.

You should not even be giving that phone number to your friends. You have no right to use that phone for personal reasons. It is for work, and for work only. If you want a cellphone to use for non-work reasons, you need to buy your own cellphone.

fireside's avatar

@MrItty – maybe it works differently with corporate accounts, but I know that Verizon would not allow me to get transcripts of my son’s text messages without a court order. I don’t really need the transcripts, but it was something I asked them when I set the phone up.

MrItty's avatar

@fireside because it’s not a service they generally offer. It would cost them time and money to give them to you, so they’re not going to do it just because you request it. A large company, on the other hand, that has multiple accounts and provides them with a significant amount of income, they’re going to be a heck of a lot more willing to please. And even if they weren’t, the company would be able to offer a significantly larger amount of money to the phone company for the request.

Judi's avatar

Two (former) employees of ours spent thousands of minuets on their company phones for personal use. We should have fired them for that because when they were on their phone they were not working. Instead we gave them. $50 phone allowance and told them they had to provide their own phone.
They got worse and we were noticing some time card issues. We got trackers in our company vehicles and realized that they were where they said they were about half the time.
I just don’t get it these guys were nice enough and deacons in their church. They considered themselves upstanding citizens? Why didn’t they see that stealing time is just like reaching in my wallet and stealing money?
Use your bosses stuff for your bosses business and get off the phone (especially if it’s during the time your boss has bought and paid for.) when you work for someone you sell your time for a fee. Spending that time on personal calls or personal intranet searches is stealing, plain and simple.

iamthemob's avatar

They should have a policy – but they can theoretically get at anything you send, and hold you responsible for any of it. Erasing texts does nothing, as mentioned.

jerv's avatar

tl:dr

I would think that the company has every right to monitor their phone. The fact that it happens to be in your pocket is irrelevant.

truecomedian's avatar

I wouldnt sweat it at all. This is paranoias pointy teeth. They got better things to keep track of, so go ahead order those strippers for the Bachelor party, and send those pics of your manhood to your girlfriend.

DrBill's avatar

Yes they can, deleting will only remove it from your phone, not their system.

Get your own phone for private matters, use their phone for business only.

MrItty's avatar

@truecomedian They have better things to keep track of – until you give them reason to start paying attention to you. If you’re doing other things that makes the company wonder what’s going on – being late, not getting the job done, the phone being busy when they call you, etc – you can bet they’re going to start looking at the phone’s records.

perspicacious's avatar

@truecomedian If the OP works for a large corporation, your advice is not really informed. Large corporations may have systems that automatically monitor uses of company-owned technology.

iamthemob's avatar

I’m with @perspicacious here: this isn’t simply paranoia. Aside from everything, it’s not sweating it to simply refrain from using company property to transmit personal information. Just don’t do it if possible. It’s just common sense, I would think – don’t use company property for anything you wouldn’t feel comfortable explaining to your boss later.

hnhall32's avatar

I would be uncomfortable with that for one. They should inform you if they are going to spy on you before you are even issued the phone. They need to let you know ahead of time and give you a chance to consent or not.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@hnhall32 I guess you have never had a “company phone ” issued to you.

It’s in the fine print…. For real ! ! !

hnhall32's avatar

Well the experience that I have had with a company phone is that it’s used for business but the occasional phone call home is fine as long as the long distance part doesn’t get outrageous.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Yes, but you sign for the phone and the fine prints says the equipment maybe monitored, at least where I have worked.

DrBill's avatar

I have phones for my employees, I do not monitor them, but I can if I want.

It records voice, data, text and location.

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