Is Computer Monitoring Software Legal?

Denise Wilkinson

In today’s digital age, computer monitoring software has become increasingly popular. It’s no secret that many employers, parents, and even spouses use this type of software to monitor computer activity. However, the legality of using such software is often called into question.

What is Computer Monitoring Software?

Computer monitoring software can come in many forms, but its main purpose is to track and record computer activity. This can include keystrokes typed, websites visited, emails sent and received, chat conversations, and more. The software can either be installed on a computer or accessed remotely through the internet.

Is it Legal?

The legality of using computer monitoring software varies depending on the situation.

For employers, it is generally legal to use monitoring software on company-owned computers as long as employees are aware of the monitoring and its purpose. Employers must also ensure that they are not violating any state or federal laws such as those relating to employee privacy.

Parents are also legally permitted to use monitoring software on their children’s computers if they are minors. However, it’s important for parents to have an open and honest conversation with their children about why the software is being used.

Spouses or partners who suspect infidelity may be tempted to use monitoring software on their significant other’s computer. However, this type of surveillance may be illegal without permission from both parties.

It’s essential to check local laws before installing any monitoring software, particularly if you plan to monitor someone without their knowledge or consent. In some states and countries, using such software without permission may result in criminal charges.

The Impact on Privacy

Using computer monitoring software can have a significant impact on privacy. While employers may argue that they need to monitor employee activity for security reasons or productivity purposes, employees may feel that their privacy is being violated.

Similarly, children may feel like their parents don’t trust them if they find out that their computer activity is being monitored. This can damage the parent-child relationship and make children less likely to confide in their parents.


In conclusion, the legality of using computer monitoring software depends on the situation. Employers and parents may be legally permitted to use such software, but it’s essential to ensure that privacy laws are not being violated. Spouses or partners who suspect infidelity should seek legal advice before using monitoring software.

Regardless of the situation, it’s crucial to have an open and honest conversation about why monitoring software is being used. This can help prevent any misunderstandings and ensure that everyone involved is aware of the potential impact on privacy.