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Workplace Surveillance Becoming More Common

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the I-see-you dept.

Privacy 195

An anonymous reader writes For better or worse, surveillance technology is becoming more common in the workplace. These tools are being used to measure and monitor employees, with the promise changing how people work. "Through these new means, companies have found, for example, that workers are more productive if they have more social interaction. So a bank's call center introduced a shared 15-minute coffee break, and a pharmaceutical company replaced coffee makers used by a few marketing workers with a larger cafe area. The result? Increased sales and less turnover." Of course, this kind of monitoring raises privacy concerns. "Whether this kind of monitoring is effective or not, it's a concern," said Lee Tien, a senior staff lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco.

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nothing to see here (0)

karnal (22275) | about 5 months ago | (#47295081)

...what? Did I miss something here?

Re:nothing to see here (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47295103)

God, your raw rancid asshole is making my fetid cock water! It's way too fuckin' good! Allow me to slam my smelly cock down into the deepest reaches of your feces-filled rotting rectum and give you a bowel smooch of the ages! What say you?

Re:nothing to see here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47295207)

Get help. Now, not later.

Re:nothing to see here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47295451)

I'm straight, now, go watch more Stargate.

Them saving money (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47295119)

By not bothering to hire experienced, decent managers.

Re:Them saving money (1)

drfred79 (2936643) | about 5 months ago | (#47295271)

Naw. Ever have a depressing single person coffee break? Imagine a coffee social. Hiring a competent manager that can record you coming in at 9:04 and forcing you to break at 11:04 is soul crushing. I'd rather act like I'm having a socializer for fifteen minutes.

Re:Them saving money (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about 5 months ago | (#47295295)

Last place I worked at, where we had someone like that, they lasted 90 days before the company canned their ass because it was "detrimental to worker morale." But that was before the current era of making everyone do the work of two people started.

Re:Them saving money (1)

Cryacin (657549) | about 5 months ago | (#47295683)

Thankfully we don't yet have managers who firmly believe in assigned breeding partners.

Re:Them saving money (2)

ruir (2709173) | about 5 months ago | (#47296457)

Hey, you only do the work of TWO people? Lucky you. I would keep quiet about that though...

Re:Them saving money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47295365)

Naw. Ever have a depressing single person coffee break?

Yes, every single day. No one talks to me. Ever.

Re:Them saving money (2)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | about 5 months ago | (#47296105)

I don't know if you're joking or not, but don't expect too much of people. If you want people to socialize with you, you have to socialize with them. And it takes time to build little relationships. Especially with engineers.

Re:Them saving money (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 5 months ago | (#47296459)

That's what you get when you take that job in IT security...

Re:nothing to see here (1)

NemoinSpace (1118137) | about 5 months ago | (#47295307)

yes. you should set up a camera and watch the replay. ...In progress.

It is only the tool... (5, Insightful)

houstonbofh (602064) | about 5 months ago | (#47295101)

Surveillance is only the tool. How it is used (abused) is the key. For example, a camera in the break-room kills good will. Pointedly saying we will be monitoring, but not the break-room increases good will.

Yeah, but now they'll catch the culprit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47295155)

Look, somebody has been leaving turds in the break room sink. At least now we'll know who it is, thanks to the cameras.

Re:It is only the tool... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47295165)

Exactly. That's why when Obama does something it isn't bad, but when the Shrub Jr. did it, it was an abusive act against our rights. It's all in the intent.

Re:It is only the tool... (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 5 months ago | (#47295211)

The camera in the break room wasn't good for the employee stealing. But the employee who found her wallet missing from her purse was certainly happy for the camera.

Re:It is only the tool... (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 5 months ago | (#47296419)

A friend of mine once said "There are two types of people in the world; Those who keep important things with them, and those who lose things." Leave your stuff lying around, expect to lose it. It's been that way since the concept of property was defined.

Re:It is only the tool... (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 5 months ago | (#47295671)

Pointedly saying we will be monitoring, but not the break-room increases good will.

Huh? Since when?

I don't care if it's the cubes or the break room. Pointedly saying "we will be monitoring" kills good will every time.

Re:It is only the tool... (1)

Cryacin (657549) | about 5 months ago | (#47295685)

Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not watching you. Oh wait, they ARE watching you!

Re:It is only the tool... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47295757)

Surveillance is only the tool. How it is used (abused) is the key. For example, a camera in the break-room kills good will. Pointedly saying we will be monitoring, but not the break-room increases good will.

In other words, it is the purpose which it is used for, and therefore the intention. Employees aren't stupid. If you are conspiring to make their lives harder or more miserable, they will revolt internally against this even if they take no action (bad will). If you are trying to make their lives easier or more pleasant, they will (sometimes) be happy to have it.

The employer usually breaks the goodwill first.

Wait, monitoring lead to improvements? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47295109)

So these guys didn't just play Stalin, but actually acted on the data in a way that was meaningful? That's... unexpected. Mainly because such techniques are usually meant to oppress the worker, not figure out that making the workplace nicer makes the worker better. Because, you know, a nicer workplace actually costs money. We want productivity without actually spending that money. We'll spend the minimum necessary on whips, and not a 0.00000000001 bitcoin more.

Re:Wait, monitoring lead to improvements? (4, Insightful)

AHuxley (892839) | about 5 months ago | (#47295243)

This has a long history with the classic "Time and motion study" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
Repackaged, sold, rented for the digital age. Expect logs, cameras, spyware, questions, tracking software. Been blacklisted is a risk if you dare to make a fuss, comment or seek outside clarification of your existing rights.
As a boss you are spending a lot to track, log and reshape your staff to do a few tasks really quickly and at a low cost with few breaks every working day.
History is full of stories of perfect production line or office been set up after been sold/rented a system to watch staff.
You end up with a multination with a dormitory, low wages and no ability to change. Lots of hands putting ever more smaller and complex products together fast.
The competition invests in robots and goes smaller, faster, cheaper and with better quality control. The brand was fixated on the time system, tracking their distrusted workers and lost all focus on needed innovation.
The winner is the person selling/renting the surveillance and staff review product, moving onto another boss.

Re:Wait, monitoring lead to improvements? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47295735)

Repackaged, sold, rented for the digital age. Expect logs, cameras, spyware, questions, tracking software. Been blacklisted is a risk if you dare to make a fuss, comment or seek outside clarification of your existing rights. As a boss you are spending a lot to track, log and reshape your staff to do a few tasks really quickly and at a low cost with few breaks every working day. History is full of stories of perfect production line or office been set up after been sold/rented a system to watch staff. You end up with a multination with a dormitory, low wages and no ability to change. Lots of hands putting ever more smaller and complex products together fast. The competition invests in robots and goes smaller, faster, cheaper and with better quality control. The brand was fixated on the time system, tracking their distrusted workers and lost all focus on needed innovation. The winner is the person selling/renting the surveillance and staff review product, moving onto another boss.

Did you intend this to be beat poetry, or were you just lucky? Because, damn, you're good!

How is the technology applied (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 5 months ago | (#47295131)

ObComment: the technology ain't evil, the law not prohibiting using it in evil ways is evil. We know someone will always try to get away with anything permitted by the letter of the law, and then some.

Re:How is the technology applied (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47295221)

Oh look. Another statist who alleges, completely without irony, that what we need to protect us is more government. As if the government is the entity which will protect us from excessive or illegal surveillance.

Seriously now, have you been under a rock for the past... ~13 years now? Did you miss the headline on Slashdot this very weekend about how the government is perjuring itself and encouraging state and local government entities to engage in massive surveillance?

I'll take my chances regarding employer surveillance policies, thankyouverymuch. At least my employers and clients don't allege they have the authority to monitor every aspect of my life, unlike this unconstitutional government.

I'll tell you what: you get the government to give up its panopticon surveillance state and then we will talk about passing laws so the government can protect me from being spied upon. Go ahead. I'll wait.

Re:How is the technology applied (4, Insightful)

Travis Mansbridge (830557) | about 5 months ago | (#47295261)

Poor laws don't make all laws poor.

Re:How is the technology applied (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47295391)

Poor laws don't make all laws poor.

What's your point? The US government has already extensively demonstrated that it has a voracious appetite for surveillance of its citizenry and has repeatedly demonstrated wanton disregard for privacy laws and the constitution in order to obtain it.

Are you actually advocating that we delegate authority to the government to protect us from excessive surveillance? If so, are you also the kind of person who entrusts their valuables to drug addicts for safekeeping?

Let the US government get its house in order before "helping us out" to protect against excessive monitoring. Otherwise, any such law will likely be an excuse for more government data capturing (you know, to ensure those eeevvull companies aren't violating the law).

Now, if you live in another country, one whose government doesn't have a throbbing hardon about violating civil liberties and can he trusted not to abuse power, then by all means go ahead and have a discussion about how your responsible government can protect you against excesses in monitoring. Also, please tell us where you live so we can add it to our list of possible emigration destinations.

Re:How is the technology applied (2)

AHuxley (892839) | about 5 months ago | (#47295317)

AC you seem to be missing the news that results from "chances regarding employer surveillance policies" are now shared at a nation level.
The results of been watched do not stop when you exit a workplace or seek new work.
"Thousands of workers 'blacklisted' over political views" (07 August 2012)
http://www.independent.co.uk/n... [independent.co.uk]
"construction workers punished by employers for raising health and safety issues" (10 September 2013)
http://www.theguardian.com/pol... [theguardian.com]
Construction workers' blacklist (Nov 18, 2013)
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/u... [mirror.co.uk]

Re:How is the technology applied (0)

drfred79 (2936643) | about 5 months ago | (#47295377)

I have to unfortunately agree. Laws that encroach on private business' ability to run their busyness as they like is encroaching on the First Amendment. We don't need good and bad private business laws. That's their business.

Re:How is the technology applied (1)

NotSanguine (1917456) | about 5 months ago | (#47295981)

I have to unfortunately agree. Laws that encroach on private business' ability to run their busyness as they like is encroaching on the First Amendment. We don't need good and bad private business laws. That's their business.

Please explain where the First Amendment comes into this particular discussion about surveilling your employees and acting on the intel from that surveillance. What conceivable law regulating a business' ability to spy on its employees (which is, at least in the US, perfectly legal on company owned/controlled premises or equipment) could be an infringement of the First Amendment? Because, frankly, I'm at a loss to understand what the hell you're on about.

For your reference, I've included the text of the First Amendement [wikipedia.org] below:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Regulating Interstate Commerce is explicitly the purview of the Federal Goverment [wikipedia.org] . What is considered Interstate commerce is a moving target, but there's this little document called the US Constitution which, as I said, explicitly gives such powers to the Federal government. Someone else has a sig that reads, IIRC, "The US constitution isn't perfect, but it's better than what we have now." Are you suggesting that we amend the Constitution to remove the Commerce clause?

Okay. So where were we? Oh, yes. I'd love to read what you claim (in this context) would be an infringement on a corporation's (whether or not a corporation has First Amendment rights is not clearly defined) rights under the law. There is also a long history (backed up by that pesky Commerce clause) of Federal business regulation.

So please, do tell!

Re:How is the technology applied (4, Insightful)

TarPitt (217247) | about 5 months ago | (#47295555)

Because private detective agencies hired by private employers to snoop on workers and ruin them is OK AND is FREEDOM.

Laws to prevent this are bad because GOVERNMENT EVIL.

For a real example of private company goon squads, try the Ford "Service Department" [wikipedia.org]

Re:How is the technology applied (2)

sjames (1099) | about 5 months ago | (#47296033)

Would I trust the state to legislate against the state monitoring and prying? Absolutely not.

Would I trust the state to ensure that it has a monopoly on the monitoring and prying? Sure.

social interaction (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47295141)

Wait what, social interaction makes people more productive? You mean they don't feel like their existence is validated by the calm fuzzy warmth of fabric covered cubicle walls? They need to talk to each other too? But what if they criticize management? Managers' fragile egos can't handle even the possibility of criticism of any kind! You there! Stop talking! Eyes back on the computer screen!

Re:social interaction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47295887)

Wait what, social interaction makes people more productive? You mean they don't feel like their existence is validated by the calm fuzzy warmth of fabric covered cubicle walls? They need to talk to each other too? But what if they criticize management? Managers' fragile egos can't handle even the possibility of criticism of any kind! You there! Stop talking! Eyes back on the computer screen!

Sounds like my last workplace. Soul crushing to the extreme. Weekly performance reviews. Management always nitpicking despite happy clients. Random screen captures. Metrics, metrics, metrics. Felt like I'd wandered into the Seven Gates of Hell. Only thing missing was chair tossing by someone in management.

Re:social interaction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47296065)

Some managers and companies live in a mirror-word where the opposite of all scientific research is true.

Re:social interaction (2)

Sperbels (1008585) | about 5 months ago | (#47296161)

You there! Stop talking! Eyes back on the computer screen!

Ha ha! Jokes on them. I can zone out and do nothing for hours while looking at a screen full of code.

They needed surveillance? (5, Insightful)

swamp_ig (466489) | about 5 months ago | (#47295163)

Seriously - they needed surveillance to figure out that workers were happier and more productive when they had some shared sense of purpose?

What next - needing surveillance to figure out people are bothered by random loud buzzing noises?

Re:They needed surveillance? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47295273)

Seriously - they needed surveillance to figure out that workers were happier and more productive when they had some shared sense of purpose?

You fool! The workers must never know that the work they do has no purpose. Don't let them interact or they'll figure out the big secret. Our entire business plan depends on worker ignorance!

No, they (still) need an effing psychologist (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47295553)

Seriously - they needed surveillance to figure out that workers were happier and more productive when they had some shared sense of purpose?

Most likely those companies are simply re-discovering the Hawthorne Effect http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Hawthorne_effect [wikipedia.org] and exhibiting more irony than a Portland hipster considering its classic industrial psychology.

Re:They needed surveillance? (2)

antdude (79039) | about 5 months ago | (#47295717)

Yes, especially where I work. Loud people, noises, etc. Ugh!

Re:They needed surveillance? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47296367)

They make me hungry.

People assume they're watched. (5, Funny)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | about 5 months ago | (#47295169)

One day, I was puttering away on some project when the phone rang. "It was totally an accident!" "What was an accident." "I didn't mean to go to that website." "What website." "The porn site." Then it dawned on me that this woman actually thought I sat around all day watching what people were doing on their computers.

Re:People assume they're watched. (1)

cranky_chemist (1592441) | about 5 months ago | (#47295191)

Then it dawned on me that this woman actually thought I sat around all day watching what people were doing on their computers.

Well... do you?

Re:People assume they're watched. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47295231)

Then it dawned on me that this woman actually thought I sat around all day watching what people were doing on their computers.

You haven't denied it.

Re:People assume they're watched. (1)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | about 5 months ago | (#47295373)

I never spied on coworkers. Only time I saw their desktops was during remote assistance or when I was at their desk.

Re:People assume they're watched. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47295817)

doesnt hurt when they think that you do, though.
i have a small red LED light on my desk, when people ask what it is i tell them it illuminates when a blocked program has been executed, or someone visits a site blocked by the proxy to alert me to immediately check the logs. of course the light does nothing, but the illusion keeps a lot of people from creating unnecessary work for me

Re: People assume they're watched. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47295237)

When I worked in a call center doing outsourced Comcast internet support years ago they actually did this to employees they suspected were "misusing" their computer access. It wasn't really effective, since the cursor would slow to a crawl when they were viewing your screen, making it very obvious.

Re:People assume they're watched. (1)

jonwil (467024) | about 5 months ago | (#47295247)

At the last place I worked, they didn't watch what people were doing but they did have a proxy server that blocked certain things (Facebook, YouTube, others) and they did log every site people went to online.

Re:People assume they're watched. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47295379)

At the last place I worked, they didn't watch what people were doing but they did have a proxy server that blocked certain things (Facebook, YouTube, others) and they did log every site people went to online.

Thank god for phablets and unlimited data plans.

Re:People assume they're watched. (1)

MacTO (1161105) | about 5 months ago | (#47295477)

While your phablet with an unlimited data plan may be invisible to to your employer's monitoring, your work ethic is not.ce,

Re:People assume they're watched. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47295367)

At one school I frequent there is a strict policy on inappropriate content. One professor accidentally visited a pornographic website. It was immediately logged and reported via automated email. Within a short time he was called to schedule a meeting. The logs reported that the session that connected to the website was open for four seconds. I know this because the log was printed and hung up for all to see as a warning. Under the zero-tolerance rules he got the boot. Some places actually are that totalitarian and the woman that called you immediately apologizing probably thought she was under such a system.

Re:People assume they're watched. (2)

arth1 (260657) | about 5 months ago | (#47295819)

At one school I frequent there is a strict policy on inappropriate content. One professor accidentally visited a pornographic website. It was immediately logged and reported via automated email. Within a short time he was called to schedule a meeting. The logs reported that the session that connected to the website was open for four seconds. I know this because the log was printed and hung up for all to see as a warning. Under the zero-tolerance rules he got the boot.

That seems exploitable. Say someone sends an e-mail to a handful of the managers of said company, with the e-mail saying something like "managers of [sadi cmpany[ unloading stock - confidential press release imminent", with "confidential press release" being a bit.ly link to a porn site. It doesn't have to be an e-mail either - a post on a message board you know someone frequents might do the job too. Even a support ticket with a choice link.
By going through a free cloud service, you can even change the redirect based on fingerprinting the visitors, to reduce collateral damage.

Re:People assume they're watched. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47296043)

That's my problem with the work place surveillance. I have to assume I'm always being watched and as such I can't resort to violent solutions that would get the job done easier. For example emptying a compactor's bin after it's been used all day. Stuff gets wedged in really tight, we're suppose to do this retarded 10 minute long shuffle type thing to get the bag out of the compactor bin. Screw that, I wheel the thing out the back door where there's no cameras and I smack it with a sledge hammer; as a result I change that bin in just 1 minute while everyone else screws around with the retarded protocol. It's not like the bin is fragile, it's really heavy plastic that can take a sledge hammer impact just fine.

Employers Have The Right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47295181)

I support employers to shoot themselves in the foot 100%. Fuck YOU!

Re:Employers Have The Right (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47295213)

Watching someone shoot themselves in the foot is far less amusing when said foot is on your neck.

Re:Employers Have The Right (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47295245)

Fucking awesome reply that nobody will ever mod up.

More common? (4, Interesting)

AK Marc (707885) | about 5 months ago | (#47295203)

I worked for a tech support line in the mid '90s. All breaks were recorded, timed, and provided to managers on a daily basis. At a fortune 100 company in the late '90s, they had static IPS and a proxy with lots of reports. They knew who was on what how many times and when. Daily, weekly, and monthly reports.

I had a written order to install a keylogger on an employee's computer in 1999. He was suspected of using company property to commit crimes. I recorded a crime, and passed it back to the management who ordered the tap. He was fired. No charges were laid.

There is no "new" surveilance. Though it may be becoming more common, it certainly isn't new. At all.

Re:More common? (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 5 months ago | (#47295353)

Just think what software products people work at home with and then infect their private computers with :)
Be very careful around any laptop, software package, system or network that is offered for home use.
"School-Webcam Spy Scandal Resurfaces" (06.08.11)
http://www.wired.com/2011/06/w... [wired.com]
Use a wired network and only a direct wired network, no routers, wifi, other computers or home networked devices running, expect any webcam or mic to be on at all times.
When done with a free work 'laptop' or network, power down, remove and ensure your own privacy is fully restored.

Re:More common? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47295777)

Those were the best days of your life, right? You actually got to be a functional cog in an overbearing authoritarian system! If only we could stop dallying and get that rolling here in the country as a whole...

Re:More common? (4, Insightful)

ShaunC (203807) | about 5 months ago | (#47296129)

At my last workplace, we officially got two 15-minute breaks per day, one before lunch and one after lunch. Now this was at a non-regulated, non-union, private company and we were salaried employees who routinely showed up early, occasionally stayed late, and many of us were still checking (and responding to) emails and tickets, fixing things, etc. from home at all hours of the day and night. This was not a scenario where we had time cards or where everyone worked exactly 480 minutes per day or where being away from your desk for a few minutes had any negative impact on productivity.

Over the course of some years, a group of smokers had aligned our patterns so that we'd break for a quick smoke at 9:30, 11, 2:30, and 4. We kept it legit, it doesn't take 7 1/2 minutes to walk outside, smoke a cigarette while chatting, and walk back in. No one was taking four 15-minute breaks. Eventually HR sent out a warning to everyone who was "abusing" the break policy by taking two quick breaks during every 4 work hours instead of one 15-minute break.

So we shifted to taking our allotted break once before lunch and once after. And we used every last second of those 15 minutes, every time. We'd wave at the cameras on the way into and out of the building and one of us would always keep track of our remaining time on their watch or their phone. Guess which folks stopped showing up at work 20 minutes early, staying late to finish things up, leaving our email clients open and monitoring work emails 24/7, and handling shit outside of business hours? Guess which folks stopped bringing their lunches and eating in 10 minutes at their desk, and started taking their full lunch hours offsite every day?

Somehow there are still plenty of employers who just don't understand that if you treat your employees like a bunch of kindergarteners, you're not going to get things like "loyalty" and "amazing work ethic" and "110%" in return. No, you're going to drive away good talent, and with that talent will go many years of your institutional memory. And you deserve to lose it.

By the time I was out of there, we had a running joke that they were probably keeping records of anyone who took more than 2 minutes to take a shit. I suppose it's a function of HR feeling a need to justify their own existence from time to time. That company is currently advertising for an HR director, a little bit of schadenfreude to end my night on a pleasant thought...

It's very interesting. (2)

MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) | about 5 months ago | (#47295223)

When cops freak out because they are being recorded, people go all ballistic. Yes I agree that you should be able to record cops doing their job, but until they get used to it, I don't blame them for being upset.

When it's you being recorded, then that is a whole different case.

Re:It's very interesting. (5, Insightful)

jeIlomizer (3670951) | about 5 months ago | (#47295469)

Indeed, recording people with legal authority who have the ability to easily ruin people's lives is a whole different case. Especially when the recording is happening in public.

Re:It's very interesting. (1)

stephanruby (542433) | about 5 months ago | (#47295575)

When cops freak out because they are being recorded, people go all ballistic.

When cops (with guns) freak out because they are being recorded, (pardon the following pun), but they're the ones who go all ballistic.

I don't blame them for being upset.

I don't blame them for being upset either, but I hope you realize there is a difference between an unarmed taxi driver freaking out because he's being recorded and an armed cop freaking out because he's being recorded.

Re:It's very interesting. (2)

sjames (1099) | about 5 months ago | (#47296107)

I do support the cops being recorded when on duty. I also support those recordings only being viewed when there is a citizen complaint or when facts surrounding an arrest are contested in court, and then only for the time period involved.

They should not be actively monitored by big brother.

A twist on 1984 (1)

Bender0x7D1 (536254) | about 5 months ago | (#47295267)

Obligatory reference to Manna [marshallbrain.com]

Re:A twist on 1984 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47295299)

Yes, the Vertebrane is the perfect surveillance device. The Australia Project is pure evil.

unions are needed before the bathroom break timer (3, Insightful)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 5 months ago | (#47295269)

unions are needed before the bathroom break timer system goes into place.

Re: unions are needed before the bathroom break ti (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47295345)

Unions suck. Last thing you want is *two* bosses to serve. You can pay union dues to hang with lowest common denominator union members if you want to. I choose to believe in myself. I'm working at a tolerable job. I'll leave if the situation changes for the worse or a better deal comes along.

Re:unions are needed before the bathroom break tim (5, Insightful)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 5 months ago | (#47295349)

shorten that to:

unions are needed.

again.

sweatshops (for computer guys) are on the return. if you and I are not careful, we will be so close to the old ways, we will have to fight that old war back again. we already lost our weekends and we lost time and a half for overtime (my grandfather used to get 1.5x, 2x and 3x time for time past normal work hours). we don't get that - we're now the evil thing called 'exempt' and we get cheated out of our own time and extra pay.

add to insult the fact that all corp firewalls have a MitM proxy in them, corp windows boxes are handed out preloaded with certs installed (for the mitm firewall entry) and at some places (like where I work) its been known that spyware and remote mic/camera stuff can be activated and logged/reviewed by your boss. how do I know: because in .de they have to disclose this and my work has offices in .de ; in the US they don't disclose what they do when spying but over in .de they do).

if we dont fight back, things will continue to get worse.

oh right, we don't have unions so we are all afraid of speaking out, for sake of our jobs.

well, so we have 2 problems to solve, then.

Re:unions are needed before the bathroom break tim (1)

rtb61 (674572) | about 5 months ago | (#47295633)

Of course any attempt to discuss Unions in the work place will result in instant dismissal for the employee initiating the pro-Union conversation. So mind you conversations at the work place, say nothing in any way critical of management. Say nothing about politics. Say nothing about religion. Of course if you want to get ahead, do the opposite and just make sure it aligns with the managements personal preferences.

Re:unions are needed before the bathroom break tim (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 5 months ago | (#47295943)

Being fired for union talk is a no no and the logs will prove that.

Re:unions are needed before the bathroom break tim (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 5 months ago | (#47296435)

Nobody will be fired for talking about unions. They will be performance managed out of the position over a period of months.

The only place where you can't easily be fired is the public sector, and that's why they pay so badly.

A Happy Worker is a Productive Worker (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47295277)

And she won't care so much about making 30% less than the man sitting above her, oggling the massive boobage. Bring on the coffee cliques, and let the hens cluck all they want -- on their break!

Re:A Happy Worker is a Productive Worker (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47295343)

Put an intern under her desk to eat her out whenever she wants. A satisfied worker is a very productive worker.

Re:A Happy Worker is a Productive Worker (1)

epyT-R (613989) | about 5 months ago | (#47295713)

If women were actually making 30% less across the board and happy about it, the men would get replaced overnight. That doesn't happen. You might want to check your stats.

I was fired when I discovered the CEO's monitoring (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47295309)

I was the VP of IT for a twenty-plus year old SaaS firm with about 200 employees. I was there for three weeks when one of the interns came in and told me they forgot to install "a security update" for my new company issued laptop. He said it would force my laptop to reboot. I was in the middle of going getting acclimated to the IT budget so I said I'd install it myself later. He agreed. Later that day I inserted the flash drive and saw one binary. I right-clicked and saw the digital signature belonged to Spector 360. Red flags! Red flags!

I spoke to the VP of IS and his jaw hit the floor. We ran Wireshark on his PC and sure enough, it was constantly communicating massive amounts of encrypted data to an internal server that had no hostname. We looked through the employee handbook and there was no mention of monitoring of employee internet use. For a moment, we thought our intern was working with a competitor. But, before we went crazy with that, our next step would be to talk with my predecessor who had stayed with the company to head up a new division. He immediately clammed up and told us we needed to talk to the CEO about it. He refused to talk any further.

We went to the CEO and calmly asked about the program and what was being collected. Apparently, he had the previous VP of IT and the intern installing this software on every PC and laptop and that it was configured to capture everything: keystrokes, screen wipes, browsing history, IM history, etc. I was appalled and I knew my counterpart from IS was as well. Nevertheless, we warned him that controls needed to be in place to determine who has access to this information, under what circumstances the access is granted, etc. We emphasized the risk he was putting the company in. We were very professional and didn't even touch the creepy aspect. He said we'd all have a meeting about it in the morning. He scheduled it for 8am with me, the IS guy, the COO, company counsel, and the company president.

At 4:45PM, about an hour after we received the meeting invite, both me and the VP of IS were rounded up, taken to the CEO's office, and promptly terminated.

Re:I was fired when I discovered the CEO's monitor (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47295781)

Did you reach out to the general counsel after your termination?

i experienced this for the first time in 20 years (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47295325)

My contract just ended at a job where my boss was Machiavellian to say the least. We were on a very undermanned team with only four engineers, which ended up down to just three including myself after he tossed out another one of the contractors who was doing a decent job. We were maintaining a product that represents 60% of the revenue of our entire department. This guy was super paranoid and he was conducting investigations with H.R. against team members for no reason, setting up and pointing cameras at us, threatening that he can check our web history at any time, etc. He even informed us that we weren't allowed to listen to music on the job.

Also, he would "confide" in his employees about things he did not like about their fellow employees in private and then go on to complain about the person he just confided in to another employee also in private. And, he would ask them to blame each other if they slipped up on the deadline for a task even if it wasn't true, he would say "Go ahead, just blame on them. *strange laughing* You can claim they're the reason you're behind on this. *laughing again* Just say they were talking to you about unrelated work." He even gave one of my coworkers a hard time because they had to go to the hospital because of health troubles. It was very unprofessional, uncaring and probably illegal.

None of it was even necessary because we were all working very hard and had even been rewarded by the company with company funded lunch at a nice Japanese steakhouse for eliminating bugs faster than they were coming in. One day I thanked him for the lunch and he said, "Don't thank me, it was because of your great work. You earned it," and then the very next day he said he was suspicious that I had been slacking because he caught me reading the news instead of working. Who cares as long as the work is getting done and I'm beating deadlines way ahead of time.

I breathed a sigh of relief when they let me go a few weeks ago. A few days later I get a call from a staffing agent who indicated they had been told by my old boss that they specifically wanted to hire me back on to the team but at a slightly lower rate. I laughed and turned them down. The staffing agent asked why, and I said they didn't care about me and the feeling is mutual. Needless to say, he has very few people left in his team and the few still there are looking for jobs elsewhere. That team is going to implode, and he deserves it.

Fired because of email surveillance (3, Interesting)

cat_jesus (525334) | about 5 months ago | (#47295333)

I was fired because I would write to my wife about the absolutely stupid things my boss and "peers" would say and do. It turns out my boss, who was completely non technical but running an IT department, was reading our email. My former boss has surrounded himself with idiotic sycophants and apparently they've had to hire 3 consultants to do the job I was doing.

He actually did me a favor. I hated working in that department, one of my peers was the owner's son and my boss was constantly sucking up to junior even though junior was my "peer". Junior is non technical too. That particular clique of management has managed to drive all the technical managers out and now they have a bunch of incompetent posers who have earned the distrust and loathing of all the people under them. They can't even make decisions on their own, they have to consult Gartner or other consultants.

I'd name names but they paid me a shit ton of money to never out them. It ended up working out well for me though. I'm making much more money and working with very smart and competent people. Sometimes more surveillance just speeds up the dysfunction that is already present in an organization.

its a lie (4, Interesting)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 5 months ago | (#47295335)

"Through these new means, companies have found, for example, that workers are more productive if they have more social interaction."

lie, lie, lie. this is referring to the so-called open-office scheme, where they remove your privacy and sound barriers, sometimes even remove your personal desk and you are now 'fully interchangable cogs' to the company.

this has been proven to be wrong, but it keeps getting trotted out, as if repeating it over and over again will make us believe it.

CEO and bean-counter bullshit. see it for what it is.

Re:its a lie (1)

dj245 (732906) | about 5 months ago | (#47295787)

"Through these new means, companies have found, for example, that workers are more productive if they have more social interaction."

lie, lie, lie. this is referring to the so-called open-office scheme, where they remove your privacy and sound barriers, sometimes even remove your personal desk and you are now 'fully interchangable cogs' to the company.

this has been proven to be wrong, but it keeps getting trotted out, as if repeating it over and over again will make us believe it.

CEO and bean-counter bullshit. see it for what it is.

Its not a lie, just a bad manager. The problem for management is that what works awesome at some companies fail completely at others. Company/Department A may be doing great with an open-office scheme, all the employees are happy and productivity goes up 50%. The problem is that a a manager at Company/Department B will try it out without considering in what, if any, ways which A is different from B. if B is the same as A in all the ways which matter, then the manager is a hero. But if B is different than A in some small way, then the manager has committed a big mistake. Sometimes the difference is foreseeable (bad manager) and sometimes it isn't.

Re:its a lie (1)

CrankyFool (680025) | about 5 months ago | (#47296317)

That.

At work, we've found a simple solution: Let each group figure out what seating arrangements work for it. There are software development groups here that really like open plans; my own group hates it, so we have tall cubes. It's up to the engineers in the group to figure out what works.

Resistance is futile (1)

AndyKron (937105) | about 5 months ago | (#47295443)

We are Borg. Resistance is futile.

Time to put the lie to exempt employees (4, Insightful)

UrsaMajor987 (3604759) | about 5 months ago | (#47295459)

Most programmers and people in IT in general are classified as exempt. Given the level of monitoring and control; the idea that IT people are exempt is a joke. Shift the classification to non-exempt and start paying overtime.

Being spied on at work is good for you! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47295545)

Says the NYT

Oh just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down, the medicine go down, etc........

Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) (4, Interesting)

siemmer (3709637) | about 5 months ago | (#47295579)

I actually work for a company that sells a SIEM tool that lends itself very nicely to monitoring of insiders. (read: employee surveillance) While most usecases are around PCI-DSS, HIPAA, and that sort of thing, invariably there are "four eyes" usecases as well. These usecases tend to bridge into the way an employee compares to their fellow employees, particularly those in the same business unit / group / job function. This tends to uncover things like people in x group come into work at 9:01a, Bill, a member of x group, comes in at 9:33a most days. Bill also tends to browse the internet on y-type sites whereas people in x group are usually active on z-type sites. Bill spends b-time with the average customer call, and takes c calls per day. Whereas x-group employees typically take 10minutes less than b-time for the average customer call, and take c+5 calls per day. SIEM tools are built to bring in most any type of data, and lots of it. Built-in correlation is normally security-centric, but is easily adapted for most anything. For example, Bill is marked as being on a business trip to Birmingham, AL but his VPN connection is coming from the FL keys *flag*. Or, more ominous, Bill said he was out at lunch with clients for an hour, but the geolocation-software installed into his phone says he was located around a car dealership, and was there for 3 hours.

Back in my days... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47295597)

We used to have these things called managers that would get on you if you spent too much time at the watering hole. The problem was that they lacked the necessary objectivity to manage properly being as they were right there. Now we can replace these unnecessary managers (who made too much $$) with surveillance technicians working in India and as far away from the workers as possible (to maintain objectivity) They can just run off a checklist that someone with a Harvard degree made up over the weekend and fire anyone doing anything not on the checklist. This will essentially eliminate the need for the human element and replace it with an algorithm (checklist) that has strategically been made to maximize productivity. Pretty soon with advances computer vision we can also replace these Indian surveillance technicians too. No more will we need to pay anyone more than $7.50 and hour, (with the exception of the MBA types who are obviously needed due the there entrepreneurial excellence) This is no doubt the way to maximize USian competitiveness and allow us to compete in the global economy. (sometimes I wonder if these brilliant ideas weren't sponsored by China or Mexico, to help us out economically)

so why force it? (2)

epyT-R (613989) | about 5 months ago | (#47295615)

You don't need to surveil employees to figure out they work better with a little down time, and then force a 15 minute break on them. Let them socialize naturally and judge them on their performance. No Orwellian panopticon needed. How about not treating human beings as robots? Did that thought ever occur to management? I doubt it.

Fidgeting with people's coffee makers isn't necessary either.

And police sending files (illegally) (0)

Hamsterdan (815291) | about 5 months ago | (#47295715)

Police sent files to my workplace (I don't have solid enough proof), In an illegally fashion, but it's not like they're gonna be punished for that...
(relegated to a desk job or suspendend with pay)

Peopleware (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 5 months ago | (#47295765)

covered all this sort of thing.

It seems that a copy of Peopleware would cost a lot less than some Orwellian surveillance system.

CHECK IT OUT (-1, Offtopic)

Darren teo (3709685) | about 5 months ago | (#47295795)

dentist singapore [dentistsingapore.sg]

Awareness of Programs Will Nullify Improvement (5, Interesting)

Scot Seese (137975) | about 5 months ago | (#47295805)

Dear Corporate America,

Your employees will begin to resent your "15 minute department coffee breaks" as soon as they learn they were born from spying on work habits, or pulled out of the latest fad HR / Management best seller. This ranks up there with silly morale boosters like "crazy Hawaiian shirt Fridays" for a developer team that is crushing 60 hour weeks and just wants to go home.

Please accept a few thoughts on true lasting employee and corporate culture improvements:

1, end the "Corporate Daycare" mentality. Arriving at 8:05 isn't the end of the world, particularly if that employee is conscientious about staying until 5:10 to compensate. Actually, have you heard of "Flex Time" , at all? Adult professionals shouldn't be shamed for making coffee at 3:30 requiring they leave their desk for 20 minutes.

2, Realize that company-provided smartphones are essentially the same as taking your manager home with you, and stop fucking sending emails after 5pm unless it's an emergency. Stop sending meeting invites at 9pm for 9 AM meetings with the expectation that employees will see it, reply immediately and be present the next morning. Let's just tie this back to "treat people like adult professionals, the way you would like to be treated."

3, Your company suffers failure of imagination and naked greed. Make your employees participants in your companies' success. Ask them for product improvements, new product ideas, and give them more than a plaque or a parking space for coming through with groundbreaking ideas. Give them bonuses. Uncomfortably large bonuses. Watch in amazement as suddenly your employees are transformed from the cave-dwelling Morlocks from HG Wells "The Time Machine" to highly motivated people who will make the company significantly more money.

4, Value for Value. Pay people what they are worth. Treat them with respect. They will work hard for you.

5, There are artists - people who can start with a blank canvas and create a photorealistic painting from their minds' eye. There are people who can't do that, but can take a blank canvas, pencil a grid on it, and methodically reproduce the photorealistic painting with 95% accuracy. This is the difference between Richard Branson and every asshole with an MBA. Far more often than not, the largest source of employees' discontent stems from bad management. Leading and motivating people is a preternatural talent, and the people with that gift are worth sourcing and retaining at all costs. All star leadership will cut your employee churn, boost your productivity, and earn your company more money.

6, Stack Ranking, Six Sigma, when will you people realize that human beings are psychologically complicated animals and applying scientific optimization models originally designed to optimize efficiency in industrial manufacturing environments has little or no value when applied to the talking meat populating your cubicles.

Six Sigma is spectacularly effective at destroying true innovation, creativity and blue-sky thinking, and has no place outside of the factory. I'm glad everyone who attended a training seminar at the airport Hilton immediately ads "Six Sigma Level 3 Grand Wizard" in their Outlook signature to quickly identify those persons I never, ever wish to have a meaningful conversation about new product with, as part of the Six Sigma training is to destroy the part of the brain responsible for creative thinking by way of directed electrical current applied using a special helmet. Other electrodes in the helmet stimulate the part of the brain making you feel incredibly enthusiastic about applying Six Sigma to everything you imagine to be possible.

Stack Ranking is essentially the same cruel process used by 10 year olds choosing teams for kickball at recess, and often with the same level of consideration. The guy answering his company Outlook emails until 10:30 every night, who also pipes up frequently in meetings - albeit absent any meaningful contributions in either - color me surprised if that guy doesn't do well in the soul crushing quarterly Stack Rank.

Corporate America is soulless.

Maybe Illegal (1)

Jim Sadler (3430529) | about 5 months ago | (#47295853)

Recording of a voice in Florida is often illegal. I doubt that it matters whose property it is on or whether it is an employer or not. It is a felony and the civil suit might be a real stunner.

Listen up, Japanese. (3, Informative)

ichthus (72442) | about 5 months ago | (#47295899)

I'm an embedded systems engineer for a company in the US, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of a large Japanese company. We enjoy comforts like alternate work schedules, telecommuting, etc. Our Japanese counterparts, however, arrive at work promptly at 8 am, spend much of each day in meetings, and then begin actual work well after noon. They work late into the night (~8:30P or later), have dinner at 10, go to bed and wake up the next day for more of the same. And, they work on Saturday. Additionally, they all wear uniforms -- it's like watching prisoners march to the mess hall when it's time for their collective department lunch break, given at 45 minute intervals.

Not only are they not as productive, their creativity is obviously stifled. Aside from the cultural norm of not wanting to rock the boat or "think outside the box", they are simply unable to innovate and create the same way we are. Indeed, when they need some creative problem solving, they come here to the US for brainstorming sessions. And, the frustrating thing is, I get the impression that they feel their way is superior. Not so. They live to work, while we work to live.

Re:Listen up, Japanese. (3, Interesting)

jrumney (197329) | about 5 months ago | (#47296121)

A lot of Japanese companies are fighting back against the overwork culture these days. It is usual to see all the lights turned out in the office over the lunch hour to discourage working through lunch, and many companies have no-overtime days where the office is closed at 6pm (I even met one guy a couple of weeks ago who said his company has started doing this every day of the week).

Eternal laws of human behavior (3, Insightful)

seven of five (578993) | about 5 months ago | (#47295913)

1. It is fun to spy on others. It is not fun to be spied upon.
2. You exert power and authority by spying on others, and by forcing them to accept surveillance.
3. People, if they know someone's spying on them, will find ways to thwart or subvert surveillance. Spying then becomes an arms race between those who want to observe and those who resist being observed.

Accountability (1)

tstur (38065) | about 5 months ago | (#47296211)

Unfortunately without accountability humans tend to make some poor choices. As an employer, why would I put up with paying somebody whose 5-min hourly smoke/coffee breaks slink towards 11-min? As a nonsmoking/noncoffeedrinking coworker, why should I be paid the same as the guy who works for 49 and breaks for 11? Now perhaps that guy is more efficient or more effective with hourly 11-min breaks, but that's the subject of a separate study. Without accountability it's easy to spend more and more minutes surfing slashdot and facebook between emails and coding. As with everything, of course, there needs to be a middle ground.

Municipal government looking over my shoulder (1)

tquasar (1405457) | about 5 months ago | (#47296231)

My employer was trying to deal with another of their decades long political scandals and cast a wide net by ordering all employees to surrender their company email info. I was given a short code to enter that gave SDDPC access to my email and I had nothing to hide besides flirting with a chemist and the usual talk between co-workers. My friend Rob would contact his friends and family in Austria via email. So... a few people were caught up in the political mess but Rob had downloaded porn on the the company PC and was fired. Idiot. I never used the Co. email for personal stuff again.

The known effect is ok (1)

jd (1658) | about 5 months ago | (#47296255)

The unknown effect involves the mysterious overlords.

Seriously, they need to spy on employees to figure out that attention spans are finite, fatigue limits effectiveness and water cooler chat revitalizes the mind? Perhaps espionage will also help directors discover that sick leave reduces illness. It may be bloody obvious to even those of us who are borderline human, but apparently it will take hidden cameras and infrared imaging for senior management to figure it out.

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