If You’re a Remote Worker, You’re Going to Be Surveilled. A Lot.
‘It’s a land grab for worker surveillance’
Just about every office worker who still has a job is now working from home, growing weary of Zoom, and in many cases struggling to juggle childcare with remote meetings and deadlines.
“It’s a land grab for worker surveillance,” says Lilian Edwards, a professor who studies internet law at Newcastle University in the U.K. “It seems to me that we have very, very few safeguards in place.”
Why should remote workers worry about surveillance?
When all communication becomes virtual, there are more opportunities for employers to keep tabs on employees in new ways.
Some financial sector workers, for instance, have been warned their bosses will be logging the websites they visit, noting the keystrokes they make, and even capturing screenshots of their screens as they work from home, reports Bloomberg. A remote working system called Sneek takes photographs of employees through their webcam once every one to five minutes, allowing bosses to see whether employees are paying attention. And until April 2, Zoom — which has seen exponential user growth due to Covid-19 — allowed call hosts to track whether participants were paying attention.
While in an office, there are clear lines between workplaces and break rooms, many remote workers are operating out of their bedrooms. That puts a bulldozer through advice from the Society of Human Resources Management, which says that while U.S. employers are legally able to eavesdrop on conversations in an office, they can’t do it in nonwork locations such as an office cafeteria or a bathroom.
For those who use personal devices for working at home, employer surveillance can particularly easily creep into personal communication.
“Lots of people will be using their [employer’s] copy of Zoom to talk to their grandmother or whatever, as well as for work,” says Edwards. “How far does that allow private…