Employer Surveillance Now Common and Accepted

Every technical innovation has brought with it a new way of watching over workers. CCTV allowed nosy managers to keep an eye on the shop when they were not around. Software systems have been used to track the number of keystrokes an administrator makes a minute, how often they move their mouse or how long they spend lurking on the web. GPS technology has enabled transport firms to track their employees and contractors as they move around the city. Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is now being used by companies to follow their employers around the building, recording who they interact with and registering if they spend too much time lingering in toilets.

Biotracking technology allows bosses to record the number of steps an employee takes in a day, their heart rate, what they eat and drink, how much sleep they get and even their hormone levels. Neurotechnology, such as increasingly cheap EEG scanners, enables overly inquisitive firms to monitor the activity in their employees' brains. Now, companies are literally getting under their employees' skin.

Last month, a small Wisconsin-based vending machines company called Three Square Market shot to global prominence when it offered employees the opportunity to implant a small device about the size of a grain of rice under their skin. This RFID-enabled device allowed its proud new owners to do things such as log into their computer, open doors and purchase food in the office cafeteria with a flick of the wrist. Nearly half of the company's 85 workers had the device implanted when the firm held a "chip party."

The vending machine company is not alone in using this technology. Back in 2006, a North American surveillance firm implanted chips under two of its employees' skin. A Stockholm-based technology incubator called EpiCentre offered similar chips to members earlier in the year....

Comments are closed.