Workplace Spying and Loss of Privacy

by Project Censored
Published: Updated:

Workplace privacy is dead and buried. Employers can and do read e-mail, eavesdrop on telephone calls, monitor Internet access and watch workers with hidden cameras. Company phones and laptops are often tracked and searched by the employer. Some companies have even installed cameras in the bathrooms.

Bosses are now spying on workers’ home lives. Millions of workers carry company-issued cell phones. Every one of these phones is equipped with GPS. The technology required to track cell phones is readily available and not very expensive. The cost of tracking an employee 24/7 is only $5 a month.

Even more serious are the problems created by company-issued laptops. Employers usually tell workers it’s OK to use them for personal purposes as well as business. It’s presented as a perk—now you don’t need to buy your own computer. What employers don’t tell you is that the company’s computer technicians look at your private documents when the computer comes in for upgrading or repair. Not only are your personal e-mail, photographs and financial records revealed, but the techs tell your boss about anything they don’t like.

The ultimate nightmare comes from webcams. If your company-issued laptop has a webcam, bosses can turn it on whenever they want. If they do it at night, they’ll probably see the inside of your house.  A suburban Philadelphia school district was recently caught turning on the webcams in laptops issued to students

Unionized workers have some protection against these abuses. While the law on GPS is still emerging, many labor lawyers believe GPS tracking is a mandatory subject of bargaining. But for the rest of us, these practices are legal. Congress has been asleep at the switch when it comes to protecting privacy for the past 20 years.

Title: Your Boss Can Secretly Film You in the Bathroom — The Countless Ways You Are Losing Privacy at Work

Source: Alternet: March 17, 2010


Author: Lewis Maltby

Faculty Evaluator: Jimmy Dizmang

Computer Science: University of San Diego

Student Researcher:  Alyssa Auerbach  Faculty:  Peter Phillips

Sonoma state University