My colleague Brian McConnell has a story about employer abuse guaranteed to make you scared and angry. I've heard only his side, although if his story is correct, I'm embroiled in the issue myself because a lot of my personal email is in his opponent's net. But I won't comment further. Because Brian's an excellent writer, he is quite capable of laying out the case without me.
I posted a follow-up with a response from the employer two weeks later.
In addition to offering Brian my sympathy, I want to congratulate him on finding something constructive and beneficial in an incident that was personally devastating. He offers a Code of Ethics concerning workplace privacy that seems to me simple, fair, and both technically and legally capable of being implemented. Maybe this Code of Ethics (or some adjusted version) will become a standard in modern corporations, and something employees can look for before taking a job.
Brian is an impressive person, whether he's describing telecom technology, showing how he put up his own solar panels on his home, or decrying unethical business practices. During the years I've known him, he discussed several possible books with me on telephony, but we never found a topic he could do that seemed to be commercially viable. (Anybody remember TAPI?) Ultimately, he wrote an interesting book on a completely different subject (the search for extraterrestrial intelligence) for a different O'Reilly editor.
A call for privacy is particularly well-timed in this election season. The Republicans publicly spat on the Bill of Rights at least three times last night, as the three main speakers--Romney, Giulani, and Palin--in a clearly scripted fashion derided the idea that "the terrorists at Guantanamo Bay have rights." This is the same old sleight of hand used by every dictatorship over the past hundred years--and that's something well known to John McCain, the only leading political figure in this country who has undergone torture, and one of the minority who used to oppose it.
While we're trying to restore respect for rights that the citizens of the world have built up since the signing of the Magna Carta, we can ask our companies to put some simple policies in place to protect both themselves and their employees. I applaud Brian's contribution, and I wish him luck in his further efforts in industry.