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January 21, 2016


Luis Enrique

decade or so ago I remember call centre workers getting bladder problem because toilet visits were so tightly rationed. friend of mine is some sort of travelling salesperson, they put GPS on her, somehow. She's not allowed to work at home or in coffee shops. So when she has to write emails etc., she's on her laptop sat in a car park somewhere. Not just objectionably intrusive, but daft.

maybe firms will learn this behaviour is counter productive and stop, maybe employees will start switching jobs to avoid it, and employers will ditch it for that reason. Or maybe firms will become more humane / sensible with how they use monitoring tech. Otherwise its another argument for unionisation and/or a legislative response.


Aren't there legal issues here around invasion of privacy?

Dave Timoney

There is a paradox here. Most of the areas where surveillance would produce a high return are the ones that have been most subject to automation, and thus no longer need surveillance. It is therefore questionable whether the increase in surveillance is actually anything to do with productivity.

Another paradox: we know from classic surveillance tropes (e.g. in espionage) that it produces a lot of noise and very little signal. Automated surveillance doesn't help much as it produces lots of false-positives that require human inspection, which rarely happens. CCTV systems with a single recyled video-tape have given way to "discovery" databases that no one knows how to use.

What we may be witnessing is a transitional phase where both watcher and watched in the surveillance hierarchy are human. The logical next step would be for an artifical intelligence watcher. Something like Siri, but with a slightly more peremptory tone.

gastro george

It's about power, isn't it? Management is exerting power, and the workers are transparently subject to it. If you don't like it, you get sacked and somebody more compliant gets the job. So it's just about enforcing compliance.


Want to go back to University?



"These technologies change everything and I think it will change higher education."

The Staff are not to keen on joining this panoptican.

And gaming the system by repeatedly swiping a access card to improve "campus presence". - priceless.


"I suspect that a big reason for the high pay of bosses and bankers is that they must be bribed not to plunder the firm’s assets – and the bigger the assets are, the greater the bribe must be."

Another reason for smaller corporates and breaking up large firms.

And similarly the state has to pay the politicians and they have to pay them more than commerce can. People struggle with that one, but it's very simple. Those who pay the piper call the tune.

Politics should be golden handcuffs. You are paid by the people and you are pensioned by the people and you are not permitted to do anything else once you become a politician - or afterwards. Any suggestion that you have been influenced by corporates should involve a very long jail sentence.


"Politics should be golden handcuffs. You are paid by the people and you are pensioned by the people and you are not permitted to do anything else once you become a politician - or afterwards. Any suggestion that you have been influenced by corporates should involve a very long jail sentence."

Fair enough. Just as long as it applies to the Left too. No more quango jobs, or other State employment, or 3rd sector jollies.


I work in security for a healthcare company.

In the United States, we have a law called HIPAA that more or less presumes you have violated patient privacy unless you can prove otherwise.

As a result, surveillance in the healthcare industry has in recent years gone into overdrive. Companies typically have cameras all over the facility, use electronic logs to track everyone who enters and leaves (And what times) often including multiple RFID badges, photographic ID, and of course, the computers track all of your activity. On the higher end, every click you make and letter you type is logged. That way, you can prove that a breach did or did not happen, and identify the specific individual responsible.

And, it's not just hospitals. HITECH, which followed HIPAA, expanded the regulations to apply to all companies that do work for healthcare companies, from data centers, to shredding companies, to the companies that lease the printers.

It's great for patients, they get to make sure their private data is protected, but it's been hell on our employees. (And expensive for the companies.)

Of course, once companies have that information in front of them, it's very tempting to use it for other purposes. After all, if you know the exact moment an employee enters and leaves a building, exactly when they take breaks, and for how long; you know exactly how much to pay them, regardless of what they wrote on their timesheet.


Workplace democracy is something that the majority of people don't know about, because it has been written out of the history books.

Some would disregard it simple because it would require more work by them in order to discuss things and keep everything working.

Surveillance is, I think, mostly about managers trying to find new ways to be lazier and more 'efficient', where efficient means being paid less to do more work as it is harder to get gains from cutting the wages of the staff these days. In many places it seems that the only way to have a decently paid job is to do 50hr weeks (or more) every week all year round. If you don't want to, you can't have a decently paid job.

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