Almost half of British businesses could be abusing their employees' human rights by snooping through their email, a new survey suggests.
While it is legal for companies to monitor their staff's outgoing email, 'Big Brother' style voyeurism is illegal, claims messaging security provider, Proofpoint, which carried out the study.
Around 38 per cent of businesses employ someone to read employee email, while 60 per cent regularly audit outbound email.
However, while 81 per cent of companies say they have a written acceptable usage policy for email, only 56 per cent provide formal training for employees regarding email security policies and only 33 per cent conduct formal training about external rules that apply to the organisation's email.
"If you don't make your staff fully aware of how and why you monitor their messages, you are snooping on them," advised Proofpoint's Managing Director for Europe, Middle East and Africa, Mark Hughes.
"About 44 percent of UK companies may be at risk because they are simply not doing a good enough job of telling their employees about their email policies."
The survey also found that one in three British companies had sacked an employee for breaking email policies and that 18 per cent of outgoing emails contain content which poses a legal, financial or regulatory risk.