Think about the the worst boss you’ve ever had.
Think of the most toxic work environment you’ve ever worked in.
Now imagine those people having access to:
- Your work productivity levels
- When you leave the work building, return to the work building.
- Your sleep habits.
- Your health habits.
How might those people use your data at your place of work? Would access to more data about your habits make things better for you or worse?
These are the questions we need to be asking as workplace surveillance tools being to creep into our workplaces.
The Wall Street Journal has a new, and rather uncritical, look at the surveillance technology that companies are using to monitor and assess employee behavior. And it’s creepy af.
The Humble Office ID Badge is About to Be Unrecognizable
Give it a read.
And if you’re tempted to say but I have nothing to hide please read these three articles:
Why ‘Anonymized Data’ Isn’t So Anonymous
8 Things You Need to Know about Surveillance
AI is going to make your asshole manager even worse
Corporate surveillance is all the rage among the top tech companies according to this Guardian article, How Silicon Valley keeps a lid on leakers:
For low-paid contractors who do the grunt work for big tech companies, the incentive to keep silent is more stick than carrot. What they lack in stock options and a sense of corporate tribalism, they make up for in fear of losing their jobs. One European Facebook content moderator signed a contract, seen by the Guardian, which granted the company the right to monitor and record his social media activities, including his personal Facebook account, as well as emails, phone calls and internet use. He also agreed to random personal searches of his belongings including bags, briefcases and car while on company premises. Refusal to allow such searches would be treated as gross misconduct.
There are some truly shitty practices happening at top technology companies like Facebook and Google. The paranoia is so bad in some companies that “some employees switch their phones off or hide them out of fear that their location is being tracked.”
So how does a job seeker know to avoid companies that treat their employers like this? And does it even matter because the long term benefits of getting Facebook or Google on your resume and working on cutting edge projects outweigh the risks of daily corporate surveillance? (yes, it should matter, but try telling that to a new graduate)
Maybe these practices are more of a reflection on just how comfortable we seem to be getting with corporate surveillance in our professional and personal lives.