Corporate surveillance is a term that is used to describe any type of discreet monitoring of activities within a business or within the industry associated with that business. When this type of surveillance is utilized internally, the goal is usually to protect the interests of the company. This is done by using various forms of employee monitoring to make sure all policies and procedures are being followed, and that employees are conducting themselves and their use of company property in a manner that is considered ethical and legal. In situations that relate to monitoring the activities of major competitors, corporate surveillance will typically involve monitoring media outlets as well as using technology to stay abreast of any information in the public domain that relates to those competitors.
As an internal process, corporate surveillance often makes use of software that monitors the use of computers by employees. Sometimes referred to as computer spyware, the purpose of the software is to make sure the equipment and the links to the Internet are being utilized for business rather than personal usage. Often, the corporate spyware makes it possible to access emails sent and received, track searches conducted using various search engines, and identify web sites that are visited. This type of activity is often considered necessary to maintain productivity and make sure employees are focused on successfully completing tasks associated with their job responsibilities.
In businesses where security is extremely important, corporate surveillance may also involve the use of equipment that monitors movements through company operated facilities. This can make it possible to determine when an employee enters a restricted area and take action to correct the potential breach in security. This type of business protection is not uncommon among corporations that handle sensitive data that is only made available to employees on a need-to-know basis.
As a tool for remaining in tune with what is happening in the industry, corporate surveillance may involve monitoring the activities of direct competitors. Here, the surveillance may take the form of using software that immediately locates any new information released online that has anything to do with competitors. Often, the software is customized to look for specific keywords or key phrases as it crawls the Internet, looking for the most recently released data. The data may be a new press release or even something as simple as a forum discussion about some new product that is in development. Engaging in this type of corporate surveillance can often provide companies with data that makes it possible to maintain market share by developing new ways to counter the efforts of the competition.