The annual International Consumer Electronics Show last month in Las Vegas showcased the latest and greatest electronic devices, including handheld imaging, audio, and game systems. There were laptops smaller and lighter than ever before, a digital photo frame combining an LCD screen with a built-in MP3 player and speaker, and cars outfitted with smart new video and computer technology.
What would your ideal gadget be, or does it already exist?
Responses to November’s Question
Beware of What Your Children Post
CNN Online ran an article in October warning that what your child posts on social networking Web sites can get you in trouble. At MySpace and its competitors, children sometimes blog about their parents’ work secrets, addictions, and other private information. According to the article, companies scouring those sites have uncovered personal information about their employees and used it to fire them.
Do you think it’s fair for employers to hunt through MySpace and Facebook pages, looking for dirt on employees?
People tend to think that in their homes they have privacy. But once they connect to the Web, they have entered a public space.
However, since anyone can create a blog and write anything they wish, the level of credibility of online information continues to sink. It will only be a matter of time before employers learn they cannot rely on information found by trolling social networks or blogs. A few lawsuits for wrongful termination based on such hearsay evidence will teach companies to refrain from searching for and using this kind of information.
Private: Keep Out
Using such information obtained through the Internet is not fair. Employees should be judged on factors that relate to their jobs, not their private lives—provided that they don’t violate any legal contract they might have.
Mohammed A. Alhaider
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
A Page From Orwell
It may seem Orwellian if employers use this information, but the responsibility belongs to the individual, as a parent and an employee. Employees shouldn’t violate the law or company policy. They should also teach their children about Internet postings, just as one would teach them about not talking to strangers. The scary thing is that anyone, not just employers, can scour the net for information that should not be out there.
It’s not wrong for companies to search Web sites to find out about their employees. And parents should know if their children are blogging, and talk to them about what is and what isn't okay to post. If they have absolutely no clue what their children are doing, then they’re not being fully responsible for their well-being.
However, I don’t think that information found on the Internet gives a company the right to fire an employee. It would need corroborating evidence to support what was posted.
Silver Spring, Md.
Mind Your Own Business
All employees should be aware that anything they say on the Internet can be discovered, so they should use discretion.
But any company that scours the Internet for my personal activities is not a company I would want to work for. If it can't accept me for who I am then I’m better off not working for it. Unless someone’s personal life affects his or her job, the employer has no business snooping around.
Oakville, Ont., Canada
Companies should not use the material posted by children against their parents, because the information lacks credibility. It’s also unethical to do so. Children sometimes write all sorts of things either for fun or to draw attention. Of course, some companies will go to any lengths to subjugate their employees.
Why Even Bother?
I suppose the first question is, Why? Who in your company is spending time searching for dirt, and how does that benefit the company? Will finding dirt in some way improve profitability, enhance productivity, or make the workplace more pleasant? Not likely.
If employees are doing their jobs, contributing to getting the business of the company done, and contributing more than they cost, they are good employees. If you have employees who do not contribute, then fire them because they don’t perform. Who cares what their kids post on MySpace or YouTube?
Benjamin A. Rolfe
Boulder Creek, Calif.