Magazine article Security Management

What Price Privacy?

Magazine article Security Management

What Price Privacy?

Article excerpt


THE US CONGRESS IS considering legislation that would have serious implications for the private security industry - both in-house and contract services - if its language is not altered. The legislation is the Privacy for Consumers and Workers Act (H.R. 2168/S. 2164) introduced by Rep. Bill Clay (D-MO) and Sen. Paul Simon (D-IL).

The legislation's intent is to limit the use of electronic devices in monitoring employees' activities. The Communications Workers of America (CWA), a union whose members are mostly telephone operators, is a primary proponent of the legislation. The CWA opposes monitoring and the use of calls-handled data for setting work standards.

Regardless of the merit or lack of merit of the legislation, the security industry would face difficult obstacles if it were to become law with its current language intact.

The bill focuses on electronic monitoring in the gathering of personal data about employees and would forbid collection of such information unless "relevant to the employee's work performance." Even if the information was deemed relevant to work performance, the broad definitions of electronic monitoring and personal data would subject safety or security monitoring to requirements that would restrict or totally compromise those efforts.

The legislation's definition of electronic monitoring is "the collection, storage, analysis, and reporting of information concerning an employee's activities by means of a computer, electronic observation and supervision, remote telephone surveillance, telephone call accounting, or other form of visual, auditory, or computer-based surveillance conducted by any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photo-electronic, or photo-optical system. …

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