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BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU

 
 
Setanta
 
Reply Fri 7 Nov, 2003 10:06 am
I just fielded a call from a GPS tracking company, which puts GPS devices in your company vehicles, so that the movements of employees can be tracked. I fielded it, and put the man out at first, no sweat. But it raises an issue which i feel is pertinent to our working world. Employers do drug testing. Our company installs covert cameras for those who wish to observe their employees without their knowledege. As well, we install camera systems for the security of employees and the public, about which employees should know (although they display a truly incredible indifference to the presence of the cameras--some of things they will do "on camera" are just astounding).

So, my question is: How do you feel about the proliferation of such measures as drug testing, tracking company vehicles, cctv surveillance systems? Do you feel that Big Brother is watching you? Perhaphs you feel safer under such scrutiny? Your thoughts, if you please.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 2 • Views: 2,545 • Replies: 14
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BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Nov, 2003 10:15 am
Will GPS tech lead to 'geoslavery'?
Will GPS tech lead to 'geoslavery'?
Tracking technology gives access to dangerous power

LAWRENCE, Kansas (AP) --Jerome Dobson worries that 1984 may be just around the corner. Dobson, a University of Kansas research professor and president of the American Geographical Society, is concerned that technical advances carry the potential for bringing about George Orwell's nightmarish vision of a society that destroys privacy. This new threat, says Dobson -- a respected leader in the field of geographic information technologies -- is "geoslavery."

Devices currently on the market, for example, use satellites to locate and track people anywhere on the planet.

One company sells a device that can record a vehicle's location so employers can keep track of every move their drivers make.

Sounding an alarm
Another company makes implanted chips to keep track of livestock or pets, and a device that looks like a digital wristwatch that can pinpoint the wearer's location and sound an alarm.

Dobson knows the good these devices do, but he also worries that they may be abused. He hopes his fearful vision will create debate and perhaps legislation or safeguards around the technology that will keep it from being misused.

Already the technologies are sparking debates regarding privacy. Add a transponder to a locked device, he said, and the punitive possibilities are endless.

"What we are suggesting," Dobson said, "is that we are only one technological step from placing a transponder in there that burns or stings a person if they step off a prescribed path by a meter. Or if they stay too long in one place. Or cross the path of another person they are prohibited from seeing, or if they congregate with other people.

"I can confine you to a place. You can't go there. Or you must go there. And I can control it."

Avoiding abuses
In the hands of repressive governmental regimes, the devices could be devastating, Dobson said, just as they could be in people's personal lives.

Before going to Kansas less than two years ago, Dobson worked 26 years at Tennessee's Oak Ridge National Laboratory creating, for the government, the maps used in global tracking.

"We may avoid the most serious abuses of this technology in the U.S. because we have a tradition of personal freedom," he said. "But it will differ by country and by culture. Think of the countries where they already have ethnic cleansing."
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BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Nov, 2003 10:19 am
Setanta
Setanta, it's sad but true, usually something that will help in one instance will do great harm in another. History shows that such devises will be abused and to public detriment, far outweighing any benefit. Attempts to control and prevent abuse cannot succeed because the temptation is too great.

BBB
Grand Duke
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Nov, 2003 10:57 am
Drugs testing is something I have first-hand experience of. I was made redundant from my job as payroll supervisor, and offered a post as a trainee project planner. I am working for the same company, in the same office, and have even kept the same PC. But a condition of my offer of new employment was a satisfactory result from a drugs and alcohol screening test.

My company does railway engineering and (obviously) anyone working on track is subject to screening, for obvious reasons of safety. But someone in the HR department decided that since they were testing all site-based staff, they may as well test office-based staff as well.

There are no operational reasons for this, merely that they want to make sure that the staff aren't doing anything they shouldn't EVEN IN THEIR OWN TIME. The current policy of D&A testing is pre-employment, random (although not very random given that people are 'chosen' for the random tests) and (the only sensible one IMO) after any accident on site.

The company also is also testing on a trial basis the GPS locators in company cars/vans, so they can tell if a driver is using the company vehicle for their private use when they shouldn't be. This is okay for car drivers, but the van drivers are not allowed any personal use (apart from home-work-home) mileage.

The basic argument put forward by the Establishment for the proliferation of D&A testing, GPS trackers etc seems to be that 'if you are doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about'. Which is true up to a point, but shouldn't we have the right to 'do nothing wrong and have no-one know about it'?
0 Replies
 
roger
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Nov, 2003 11:06 am
Grand Duke wrote:
Which is true up to a point, but shouldn't we have the right to 'do nothing wrong and have no-one know about it'?


Yes we should. There is even a tort called something like "Public disclosure of embarassing private information", which has nothing to do with illegal actions. I suppose if the information is not publically disclosed, the tort doesn't apply. It should.
0 Replies
 
patiodog
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Nov, 2003 11:48 am
Does the ruling specify exactly what "public disclosure" means? I'd consider my boss knowing who I'm having sex with is public disclosure. But there are a lot of steps between complete, utter privacy and having your actions broadcast on CNN.
0 Replies
 
husker
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Nov, 2003 11:50 am
well they are also tracking my every keystroke and site I visit. - and can read this if they like.
0 Replies
 
husker
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Nov, 2003 11:53 am
When I worked at the large software and computer comany we had a smartcard \ id badge that was marketed to hospitals that gave back info about the whereabouts of an employee.
0 Replies
 
roger
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Nov, 2003 12:10 pm
I don't know, patiodog. Several landmark cases have turned on that very point. Would you like me to look up a case tonight?
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patiodog
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Nov, 2003 02:33 pm
'T's all right -- I 'spect I'll hear all about it when the gf's torts class gets to privacy issues...
0 Replies
 
roger
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Nov, 2003 03:35 pm
When she gets to Law of Contracts, be very, very careful, pd
0 Replies
 
patiodog
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Nov, 2003 03:54 pm
She's already there. (Luckily, that and civil procedure are her least favorite classes, so even if she tries to hold me to a contract, she'll probably mis-file the complaint or something...)
0 Replies
 
BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Nov, 2003 11:31 am
Hey Big Brother Get Outta My Miserable Cubicle
Hey Big Brother Get Outta My Miserable Cubicle
Mark Morford

As more and more white-collar companies implement attendance-tracking
systems, more and more people dream of desperate, epiphanic escape
(Associated Press)

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2003/11/04/financial1118EST0084.DTL&nl=fix

It's 9 a.m. Do you know where your workers are?

Increasingly, companies do. In their drive to squeeze greater efficiency from staffers, a growing number of employers are embracing sophisticated electronic tracking systems to ensure their workers are at their desks and work stations when they are supposed to be. And while many blue-collar workers are used to punching a time clock, many of the new tracking systems are trained on white-collar, salaried employees.

At New York law firm Akin & Smith LLC, paralegals, receptionists and clerks clock in by placing a finger on a sensor kept at a secretary's desk. "It keeps everyone honest," says Derek T. Smith, a managing partner at the firm. "I like to see how long they take for lunch," he says, adding that the system so far has been "very successful" in boosting productivity.

For Wanda Ortiz, a 24-year-old paralegal, the firm's biometric system was a bit of a shock at first. "I never saw anything like this" at three previous law-firm jobs, she says. But she says placing her thumb on the sensor whenever she enters or leaves the office has made her more conscious about getting back to work on time after breaks. "I do rush at lunchtime if I go out," Ms. Ortiz says.

At the Mitsubishi Motors North America plant in Normal, Ill., Andy Whaley, a manager of accounting, can check from his desktop computer how many of the plant's 500 white-collar employees have shown up for work. These employees clock in using a Web-based system at their desks. The setup also tracks how many of its 2,600 assembly workers are on the plant floor. These blue-collar employees "swipe in" with an identification badge instead of filling in a paper time card

"We look at the system every day, and we can see how many people are working both on the floor-associate side and the salary side," Mr. Whaley says. "Once we capture that data, we can look at those reports and say, 'Hey, we worked so many hours this shift and we built so many cars.' "

Economic Advantages Corp., a mortgage-services company with offices in Woodstock, Vt., and Manhasset, N.Y., installed an attendance-tracking system last month. It requires the company's 35 employees to punch in using a finger-recognition technology. The new system means that, in effect, the company's salaried workers, which mostly are client-services representatives, now get paid by the hour.

"Most of them are very honest about what they do so they have no fears," says Lynn Simmons, the company's president. But "there's always a person or two that were trying to get one over on me. This way if they take a half-day off and don't make it up they don't get paid for it."

Illiana Financial Credit Union in Calumet City, Ill., has used a fingerprint-recognition system to track its tellers and loan officers since early 2001. "I can look at my employees (electronically)," says Doug Leighner, information technology manager. Since the system was installed, it has "probably saved us 10 or 15 minutes a day per employee" in payroll costs by preventing workers from padding their time sheets by staying late or starting early unnecessarily, says Mr. Leighner.

Workplace-rights advocates say such tracking systems are often needlessly invasive. "The real problem is employers conducting surveillance and tracking when they have absolutely no reason to think there's anything wrong," says Lewis Maltby, president of National Workrights Institute, a Princeton, N.J., nonprofit that focuses on human rights in the workplace. "If you can't tell if someone is doing their job without checking their physical location every five minutes you're not much of a manager."

Others argue that when workers are subjected to such tight tracking, their morale, and hence productivity, can actually fall. "Being chained to your desk or job post is one measure (of productivity) but not the only measure," says Pam Dixon, an author and privacy-rights expert in San Diego. "Instead of having a work environment that fosters flexibility and creativity, there's less room for individual variances and personality variances," Ms. Dixon argues. "I think there's a more robust way of looking at people instead of clocking them."

But managers say being able to create an on-the-spot printout of an employee's attendance can be a persuasive management tool. "You can show them and say, 'Look, these are the hours that you were working a few months ago, and now you're only working this amount of hours,' " said Mr. Smith, the law-firm partner.

"Companies need to manage their workers better," argues Michael DiPietro, vice president of product and industry marketing for Kronos Inc., a Chelmsford, Mass., provider of attendance-monitoring systems, along with payroll and scheduling products. "One of the things they're trying to do is to make sure there isn't an abuse of time." Kronos says it is the biggest provider of attendance-tracking systems in the U.S., with clients including Waste Management Inc., Georgia-Pacific Corp. and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

Kronos has seen the trend toward monitoring salaried workers. According to Mr. DiPietro, one client, a large computer manufacturer that had used a Kronos system for hourly workers, extended the product to cover 25,000 salaried employees when it upgraded its system in 2001.

While the efficiencies, including reducing overtime abuses and improving scheduling, may be real, another attraction for managers is the ability to keep an eye on lazy workers, especially nonunionized office workers who don't work in shifts and generally have more freedom to schedule their days. "Everybody wants tardy information and extra-hour information and (data about) long lunches on their salary people," says Brent Larsen, senior developer at Count Me In LLC, a Mount Prospect, Ill., company that sells attendance-tracking systems that use fingerprint-recognition technology. "They generally don't use it for payroll. They use it to chew them out."

Count Me In is adding 50 to 100 customers a month, Mr. Larsen says. As many as 40 percent of the company's 1,000 customers use the system to track the attendance of some salaried workers, he adds.

By linking devices to a computer network, the new attendance-tracking systems let employers monitor widely dispersed workers more readily, from employees working across multiple offices to telecommuters -- and even migrant workers.

TriB Nursery Inc., a Tahlequah, Okla., plant wholesaler, is testing a hand-recognition system to supplant punch-card time clocks to track more than 500 migrant workers across 300 acres during the company's busiest season. "Before, you had to go out and make phone calls or go to the walkie-talkie" to figure out how many workers were on the job at a given time, says Dave Watt, chief financial officer. The hand readers, from Qqest Software Systems Inc. of Salt Lake City, also prevent "buddy punching," in which friends clock in for one another.

But the nursery's ability to identify workers and shift them around with greater efficiency is the biggest plus, says Mr. Watt.
0 Replies
 
Heeven
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Nov, 2003 11:42 am
Now all we need is an electronic gizmo that zaps CEO's and boards of directors when they commit fraud or provide false information or steal from the coffers to buy their rich toys!
0 Replies
 
jrolse
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Jan, 2016 01:02 am
@BumbleBeeBoogie,
In my opinion, any technology that can be abused will be abused. No matter all of the initial good intentions on the part of the employer who incorporates these systems, curiosity will set in. He will think, 'let me try this out just once to see what it can really do', and like a drug, he will use, use, and use to the point of abuse. The saddest part of this is that most employers can't even see how, by using this technology, they will damage productivity by destroying the morale of their workers through the clear message of mistrust that they project upon their employees.

JRO
0 Replies
 
 

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