Orwell, Inc.: How Your Employer Spies On You From When You Wake Up Until You Go To Bed

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An increasing number of large companies are using data from employees’ electronic devices to track such personal details like when you they wake up, where they go for coffee in the morning, their whereabouts throughout the entire day, and what time they go to bed according to a new Wall Street Journal article. What’s the company explanation for this type of spying?

“An increasing number of companies are keeping track of such information to flag potentially suspicious activity and measure work-life balance,” the article claims.

The article walks through the day in the life of a fictional worker, Chet. It starts by noting that his employer logs the time and his location when he first wakes up to check his e-mail in the morning.

From there, the company even sees as Chet logs onto the guest Wi-Fi connections at places like the coffee shop in the morning. Many companies require additional authentication when they try to access company information from unsecure Wi-Fi networks.

Then, a Bluetooth device and his ID badge mark what time he arrives at the office while tracking his movement around the building. These technologies are supposedly used to see what teams collaborate frequently and to make sure that employees aren’t accessing unauthorized areas.

Then, as Chet gets to his desk, his web browsing is tracked along with his email. New software breaks down how workers interact with email and how quickly colleagues reply in an attempt to see which employees are most influential. Some software on company computers even snaps screenshots every 30 seconds to evaluate productivity and hours worked.

Even Chet’s phone conversations can be recorded, transcribed and monitored. Companies use this information to find subject matter experts and measure productivity. Even conference room discussions and meetings can now be recorded and analyzed by software.

At the end of the day, if Chet goes to the gym or for a run, the company will know that too and just how many calories he has burned: his fitness tracker logs how many steps he takes and what exercise, if any, he is doing. Companies then use that information to determine how frequently employees are exercising and whether or not they should be paying for health and fitness services.

You can view the WSJ’s full animated panel here.


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