Employers often monitor employee network access, even install keyloggers on their computers, etc.

But the articles I found on the internet, is about the monitoring but not what they may do with the logs.

Let's see the following scenario: I'm waiting for an important e-mail so I keep my personal e-mail account web interface open, I just logged in, an waiting and not opening any of my e-mails. So my employer won't see my e-mails' content in the logs.

Since the user name and password passed through their network. They can obtain it from the logs.

May they use the username and password to log in, look at my e-mails and use the account on my behalf without my consent? (Just because they obtained the password)

I work here in Hungary, but the company is an international company, so the proxy is somewhere else (maybe in England).

  • Don't you use SSL? Commented Jul 28, 2012 at 10:09
  • Even if I use SSL they can sniff it by using an SSL proxy and installing trusted certificates.
    – Calmarius
    Commented Jul 28, 2012 at 10:12
  • 1
    For legal questions please indicate jurisdiction. You have a work contract under the law of xxx, your international company is based in yyy... In France is law is very strict and the employer is not allowed to open an folder clearly labelled "personal" (of course the Windows "My Documents" is not such a personal folder).
    – curiousguy
    Commented Jul 28, 2012 at 13:30
  • Guys, should we have a workplace tag for these questions?
    – curiousguy
    Commented Jul 28, 2012 at 13:32
  • 1
    You're on a home network somewhere, probably wireless, possibly not - people can steal your information there as well. If you're worried about your employer stealing your information, keep work and your personal life separate - invest in an iPhone or something. Also, most employees do this out of security concerns (trust me on this one). If you're caught doing something suspicious/ illegal, they can use such logs to possibly determine how big their problem is.
    – cutrightjm
    Commented Jul 29, 2012 at 4:44

2 Answers 2


An employer may not access your personal email without your consent iirc. (Consult a lawyer to be sure)

However almost all of the time when these type of practices are in place there is an acceptable use policy that also points out if you are allowed to use company ict infrastructure to read your personal email, what they will be logging and what they might do with that information.

In Belgium we follow European guidelines, our law states:

  • An employer can not monitor your surf and email behavior, unless he advertised this up front. (Like I said, this can often be found in the AUP)
  • Only after the consent of the employee an employer may look up how much he's using the internet or how much emails he is sending.
  • The content of a sent/received email can not be read unless the employee has opened them and has given consent. There are exceptions on this (for instance when the employee goes on leave and the emails need to be forwarded to another employee)

If information wants to be used as proof in court it will have to follow the above guidelines UNLESS:

  • There was a court order to gather this information
  • There was a "higher" cause, this being: theft, corporate espionage or accessing information considered illegal by the law (child porn, warez,...)
  • Employers are also encouraged to create a UAP and provide a detailed and comprehensive list of rules to tell the employee, what he can and can not use the company's ICT infrastructure for. A company can always prohibit the use of company ICT infrastructure for personal use (Facebook, personal email)

Whilst he can conclude you are using his infrastructure for personal use, he may not access the content and certainly not send emails in your name.

This will probably be similar for Hungary as this law follows European guidelines. But please refer to a lawyer to confirm!

Also my advice: If you know these things are being monitored, don't use them for any personal matter.

  • I think you mean employer instead of employee. I can't edit it myself as it is a one letter change.
    – user10211
    Commented Jul 28, 2012 at 12:06
  • @D.W. The answer is applicable to the asker's case as he states that he works in Hungary. Moreover, Lucas stated to consult a lawyer to be sure.
    – user10211
    Commented Jul 29, 2012 at 6:31
  • @D.W. European law is applicable. Also in the U.S. it's not allowed either to access a personal email. In the U.S. an employer may only read the email if the email resides on one of its own servers. Commented Jul 29, 2012 at 6:43
  • @LucasKauffman, TerryChia, you are right, I missed that! I'm deleting my erroneous comment. My mistake. Sorry about that!
    – D.W.
    Commented Jul 29, 2012 at 6:45

In the US, your employer can monitor your actions if they provide notice that your actions on their systems may be monitored (and probably even if they don't provide notice).

For more details, see the following resources:

  • Workplace Privacy and Employee Monitoring, from the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. It makes clear that, generally speaking, an employer can monitor phone calls, email, use of the employer's computers and network, and other similar activities.

  • Labor Law, from the EFF. See especially the questions on monitoring.

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