Privacy expectations at work—what is reasonable and why?

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 12 (2):201 - 215 (2009)
Throughout the longstanding debate on privacy, the concept has been framed in various ways. Most often it has been discussed as an area within which individuals rightfully may expect to be left alone and in terms of certain data that they should be entitled to control. The sphere in which individuals should be granted freedom from intrusion has typically been equated with the indisputably private domestic sphere. Privacy claims in the semi-public area of work have not been sufficiently investigated. In this article, the case is made that employees have reasonable expectations on privacy at work. Firstly, in a descriptive analysis, employees’ need for workspace privacy is spelt out. Secondly, a normative analysis explicates the reasons why privacy should be protected. The main thrust is to provide a more inclusive privacy concept and hence, a more adequate basis for privacy protection legislation and codes in the area of work. Contrary to prevailing workplace privacy protection, employees’ need for local privacy should be accommodated as well as informational privacy.
Keywords Autonomy  Employees  Ethics  Informational privacy  Local privacy  Privacy  Reasonable expectations of privacy  Workers’ privacy  Workspace
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