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The changing landscape of workplace surveillance

On Behalf of | May 7, 2024 | Employment Law |

Imagine a workspace where the boundaries between the physical and virtual are blurred, where every keystroke can be measured, and the eyes of technology watch your every move. This is not science fiction; it may be the reality of today’s workplace, where artificial intelligence and surveillance tools are becoming the norm.

Understanding surveillance tools

Many employers have a toolkit at their disposal for monitoring employees in the workplace. Some of the technologies that businesses have integrated into daily work life — whether or not strictly permissible pursuant to applicable laws — include:

  • Location tracking via employee badges or smartphones
  • Webcam or video recording for security and monitoring
  • Keystroke monitoring to measure productivity
  • Screen grabs to assess work progress
  • Use of biometric information like fingerprints or facial recognition for identity verification

These technologies serve various purposes, from enhancing security to boosting productivity. However, they also raise important questions about privacy and trust in the workplace.

Is technology a double-edged sword?

While technology can undoubtedly streamline processes and create efficiencies, it is not without its drawbacks. 

One significant hurdle is that the rapid pace of technological advancement has left many of our laws lagging. This gap can lead to scenarios where employees feel over-monitored and under-protected. The lack of clear guidelines creates a grey area where workers are uncertain about their privacy rights and are concerned about how employers and others use their data. This climate of uncertainty is exacerbated by the different statutory frameworks that do exist in different jurisdictions and for different types of employees.

While there may be guidance and recommendations parties can refer to, employers and employees may be unsure of their rights and responsibilities under the law.

How this affects the legal landscape

The complexities of workplace surveillance mean that missteps are not just possible but inevitable. Employers may cross lines they should not, and employees might find themselves in situations where they feel someone has violated their privacy

As we continue to navigate an ever-changing landscape, it is crucial to scrutinize the laws and workplace policies that involve new technology and artificial intelligence. Legal professionals can help interpret existing laws, enforce privacy rights and advocate for necessary changes to ensure that the workplace remains a fair and respectful environment.



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