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8 Nov 2020

Albert Fox Cahn, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Commentary: When your boss sees everything - why Biden must act against spyware

... As more and more Americans live, work, and sleep in the same confined spaces, our offices have seeped into parts of our life that we once thought were walled off from employers. The pandemic dramatically accelerated existing tracking, bringing the boss’s prying eyes to our homes, even our bedrooms.

... The Biden Administration must tackle this surveillance surge as part of any comprehensive COVID-19 plan. With the new administration likely to promote remote work as a larger part of our response to the pandemic, we need to protect workers’ right to privacy, especially in their own home.

... Another firm, Enaible, uses A.I. to track a range of worker behavior, ranking their productivity. After the algorithm learns about a worker’s “typical pattern of behavior” it gives them a score between 0 and 100. But how is that score reached, what factors are used? Thanks to the black box artificial intelligence driving this product, workers and managers often won’t know. Even worse, there’s no protection against A.I. bias, that might indirectly penalize workers for their race, gender, sexual orientation, or disabilities.

... [P]roductivity tracking technology is far from the most invasive form of employee monitoring. Some firms require employees to undergo constant GPS tracking, keeping a log of every place they go. Other systems gain access to an employee’s webcam...

Part of the following timelines

USA: 2020 Presidential election, business & human rights

Increased digital monitoring of employees during COVID-19 pandemic raises privacy concerns