The Naked Employee: How Technology Is Compromising Workplace Privacy

The Naked Employee: How Technology Is Compromising Workplace Privacy

The Naked Employee: How Technology Is Compromising Workplace Privacy

The Naked Employee: How Technology Is Compromising Workplace Privacy

Excerpt

The idea for this book arose from research that I conducted for Obscene Profits (Routledge 2000), during which it became clear that online pornography was becoming a serious problem in the workplace. As I researched the issue of pornography at work, it quickly became apparent that employers were responding to the problem by installing increasingly sophisticated software to monitor what their employees were doing online. It was evident that the software used to monitor online activity was capable of recording far more than employee efforts to download sexually explicit images.

The other thing that quickly became obvious was that computer monitoring was merely the tip of the workplace surveillance iceberg. Every day, employees work under the unblinking gaze of video cameras (both hidden and overt), pee into little plastic cups in order to get or keep a job, swipe a card or wear a badge to create a trail of their movements, and/or drive a vehicle equipped with a Global Positioning System that closely monitors their out-of-office behavior.

Although the attacks of 9/11 have altered our expectations somewhat, the idea of so many Americans working under constant surveillance is still jarring. Personal privacy is a deeply ingrained theme in the mythos of this nation—after all, Daniel Boone picked up stakes and headed west when the smoke of his nearest neighbor appeared on the horizon.

The frontier disappeared more than a century ago, and not long afterwards, so did the practical availability of true personal privacy. Nonetheless, even in an era of highly detailed credit reports, invasive telemarketers, and pizza deliverers who track what we ordered last time, we cling fiercely to the myth of privacy—so fiercely, in fact, that we believe in personal privacy even in the workplace. Time and again, public opinion surveys show that . . .

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