Employee privacy in the US is at stake as corporate surveillance technology monitors workers’ every move


Employee privacy in the US is at stake as corporate surveillance technology monitors workers’ every move 

The emergence of sensor and other technologies that let businesses track, listen to and even watch employees while on company time is raising concern about corporate levels of surveillance. Privacy advocates fear that, if the new technology is not wielded carefully, workers could be at risk of losing any sense of privacy while on the job.
Walmart last year patented a system that lets the retail giant listen in on workers and customers. The system can track employee “performance metrics” and ensure that employees are performing their jobs efficiently and correctly by listening for sounds such as rustling of bags or beeps of scanners at the checkout line and can determine the number of items placed in bags and number of bags. Sensors can also capture sounds from guests talking while in line and determine whether employees are greeting guests.
Ben Waber, CEO and co-founder of Humanyze, said the company, which started as a project in MIT Media Lab, has developed guidelines to address company and employee privacy concerns. Employees opt in to use badges and can choose to use fake ones if they’re not comfortable with the real ones. Microphones in the badges only record about 48 samples per second, which can track tone of voice and volume but not content. Companies also control what data fields to collect for Humanyze to analyze. So emails can be scrubbed of actual addresses, subject lines or anything else.

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