Is It Legal To Use A Keylogger? The Uses Of Computer Monitoring Software

This is a guest post written by Lewis Waller of Gecko Monitor. The views expressed herein are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect the views of this site.

There are many reasons someone might want to use computer monitoring software (sometimes referred to as a keylogger) and over the years, because of the way they work, they have acquired a malicious reputation. This of course, could be true, but as with a lot of things it’s not the thing itself that’s malicious or dangerous but the way you put it to use.

There are a multitude of uses for computer monitoring software but I’m going to start off by answering the title question – Is using one legal? Firstly, laws obviously vary from state to state and country to country. That being said, the following laws will usually apply; You may use a keylogger/computer monitoring software if:

  • You own the computer you are monitoring
  • (or) You have express permission from the owner

Other laws may vary. For example in some cases you can only monitor a minors computer activity if you are the parent/steward. With these general laws in mind, lets look at at a few ethical and legitimate ways of using computer monitoring software.

In my opinion (of course, your free to disagree!) there are three main reasons that could bring you to monitor a computer. The first is monitoring your childs computer. Some parents may whole-heartedly disagree, but others feel that monitoring your childs computer is an option if you feel they are using it in an irresponsible way, or you feel they are lying to you. Some say it’s an invasion of privacy, others think that it can do a lot of good and sort out a problem before it goes to far. A few example problems include porn or drug related problems.

Another reason for using a keylogger is to monitor an office computer or network. The reasons for this are probably obvious, with productivity in the work place a main reason. As a manager or boss you may feel that employees are too lax when your eyes are averted. Games, news articles, Facebook and Twitter are huge temptations when working and although some may think that these pose no harm, others may worry that the work to play ratio is swaying too heavily in the wrong direction.

Certain monitoring applications are more suited to monitoring an office than others, especially offices with a large network of computers. These applications can monitor all of the office computers from one central PC, informing the boss of the companies computer activities in real time. In these cases, paying special attention to local laws is especially important. In general, you will have to notify employees that they are being monitored and it some cases get there permission.

When it comes to ethics and legitimate/illegitimate uses there will always be a line that is in a slightly different place depending on the person. Keyloggers could be used for reasons that are obviously unethical, illegitimate and most importantly, illegal. An example of this would be using them in an internet cafe to steal personal information. I’m sure you don’t need any more examples of illegal uses but there are uses that are on that line between ethical and unethical.

One of these uses is monitoring a spouse/partner. One of the most popular reasons for using computer monitoring software is when other halves are suspected of adultery. In these cases keyloggers are installed on computers to monitor any chat conversations or emails that have been sent. These days phones can easily monitored, making the situation even more complicated.

If you own the computer you want to monitor, this is usually legal, but whether you think its ethical is another matter, and one I’m afraid I’ll have to leave up to your conscience. Remember to always check your local laws before using a keylogger/computer monitoring software and remember that it’s not usually the software that’s malicious but the way it is used.

The author of this article, Lewis Waller runs ‘Gecko Monitor‘ – the powerful and stealthy computer monitoring software. To download a free trial of Gecko Monitor head to http://www.GeckoMonitor.com

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