Workplace Surveillance in 2016 and the George Orwell Predictions

Workplace Surveillance in 2016

 Welcome to the world of Employee Monitoring and Employee Surveillance and the resulting invasion of employee privacy. The Orwellian Society and workplace scenario as illustrated in the Book "1984" by George Orwell which plays on The New World Order theory and in the corresponding film of the same name, was a shocker at the time and still is. BUT what was predicted way back then is about 25 years behind schedule, but it is here now and in a big way, it's evolving and becoming more vigorous as every day passes. This is a supplementary article to the recent RFID and Biometrics which was more general in nature and more focused on outside the workplace and at home. This article also ties in with the New World Order Myth or Reality article which is what the Orwellian Big Brother New world Order Society is based on.

Here we take a look at what is developing in the workplace in technology terms, is it something to worry about, the privacy and legal implications and can you really avoid this Orwellian surveillance scenario, all this and more will be tackled in what is an absolute minefield of the workplace. The debate rages on as to whether it is moral, ethical and legal for employers to monitor the actions of their employees in such a detailed and increasingly intensive way.

Before we start, it has to be said that Workplace Surveillance has been around since the Victorian Times when factories started to spring up. Clocking In and Out was the norm in those days which essentially gave a time when you arrived, when you left and when you had a lunch break (if any) and how long for. Your boss would also be watching over you whilst you worked in some shape or form. All rudimentary stuff which has survived right into modern day society, but now instead of clocking in and out we have swipe cards or something similar which form the double function of providing a clock in clock out card and also a security pass and ID to enter and leave the building at where you work.

This is something that most people are quite prepared to accept, it goes with the territory, if you have a problem with that then you're probably better of being self employed! Where things start to get close to the line or start crossing personal boundaries is when you are monitored beyond that level and everything you say, your movements within the building, who you talk to and increasingly your moods and what you are thinking are coming under closer scrutiny all in the name of "Productivity" and "Security". This is when the film and the George Orwell Book 1984 and it's realistic creepiness springs to mind. Why do organisations go through all this trouble? Organizations engage in employee monitoring to track performance, increase productivity, avoid legal liability, protect trade secrets, and address other security concerns, it's that simple.

We are at that the stage now where we are dealing with a world even worse that anything Orwell could have foreseen. Take for example CCTV alone, at least Winston [Winston Smith in Orwell’s novel 1984] was able to go out in the countryside and go under a tree and expect there wouldn’t be any screen, as it was called. There was somewhere to go to escape. BUT today and in the future there are many parts of the English countryside where there are more cameras than George Orwell could ever have imagined. So the situation in some cases is far worse already, and that's just at the time of writing in 2016.

We now have advanced Employee monitoring software and corresponding hardware, Telephone tapping, Email surveillance, Social Media activity watching,Video surveillance, Location monitoring, Work Server and Work Station monitoring. That's just in an office environmemt, there's no escape when you are out on the road either with GPS and vehicle tracking and Telematics. It's not only the privacy concerns that we are being constantly monitored on a daily basis but the worrying concern is what happens to all this digital data, where does it go and most importantly ...............what do people do with it?

What can an employee use monitoring and surveillance for? The following uses of employee information are generally considered legal:

Find needed business information when the employee is not available.
Protect security of proprietary information and data.
Prevent or investigate possible criminal activities by employees.
Prevent personal use of employer facilities.
Check for violations of company policy against sending offensive or pornographic email.
Investigate complaints of harassment.
Check for illegal software.

According to Computer Monitoring: The Hidden War Of Control,“The employer of today has the ability and legal right to read e-mail, review files stored on a company computer, examine computer usage, and track individual employee computer activities. The idea of anonymous actions is an illusion. Every action between a network and the computers connected to it can be tracked. Every action by an individual worker on a computer can be tracked, analyzed and used against the employee. The protections and freedoms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights are there to protect the individual from the Government and do not generally apply to the normal employee/employer relationship.”

What are the laws that allow this monitoring?

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA)
The Telecommunications (Lawful Business Practice)(Interception of Communications) Regulations 2000 (LBP)
The Data Protection Act 1988 (including the 2003 Code, Monitoring at Work) – Employers must act in accordance with the DPA and its 8 key principles.

What if any rights do Employees have about being under surveillance?

The Human Rights Act 1998 also plays an important role here as it gives individuals’ a right to privacy and the UK’s laws try to recognise that employees may feel that monitoring by their employer at work is intrusive.

The latest Employee Monitoring software and hardware and surveillance techniques.
Things are now moving onto a new level with ever more intrusive technology in hardware and software form

Worksnaps is a piece of software that takes regular screenshots of a worker’s computer screen (with their full knowledge), counts their mouse and keyboard clicks each minute, and even offers the option of capturing webcam images. The customer testimonials are worth reading. One small business owner enthuses that she was able to “find and weed out” workers who were chatting on Facebook even though she was in the US and they were in the Philippines.

Workday, a human resources software company, makes a product called Collaborative Anytime Feedback that promises to turn the annual performance review into a daily event whereby colleagues give feedback on your performance. However, many workers called it a river of intrigue and scheming. They described making quiet pacts with colleagues to bury the same person at once, or to praise one another lavishly. General Electric, long a standard-setter in management practices, began a pilot project last year in which a smartphone application similar to Workday was used to give workers instant feedback from bosses and colleagues.

An executive from Kronos, a “workforce management” company, who waxed lyrical about the potential for wearable technology to measure workers’ tiredness levels in real time. She reasoned this would help employers not to overwork their staff?

Occupeye: Intelligent Space Utilisation Analysis Technology | Workspace Utilisation Sensors | as implemented in The Telegraph offices under desks recently resulting in outbursts from it's workers

Smart Caps (being worn by Oz Miners and Drivers): is a baseball cap with integral sensors that continually monitor the wearer’s brainwaves to determine their level of impairment due to fatigue, reducing the risk of fatigue related safety incidents, as well as providing the information needed to improve alertness throughout the operation.

Plasticity Labs: An App that tracks happiness? The Workplace Platform That Measures And Trains Organizational Happiness and Performance.
Measure and understand your team while Plasticity trains the psychological behaviors of the happiest and highest performing teams.

BP US Fitbit Trackers: BP America bought 24,000 Fitbits to hand out to employees, their spouses and retirees in 2013. That paid off for the energy giant, which saw the growth rate in the company’s healthcare expenses fall to below-average levels but also provides a way to monitor employee bodily functions 24/7

Telematics in Trucks for driver behaviour

Human condition safety sensor vests to prevent injuries on building sites

Interguard Sonar: Employee Monitoring Software by InterGuard is the Only Cloud Based Solution ... By recording all PC activity, both on or off network

Aloha Restaurant Guard: Aloha Restaurant Guard helps restaurant owners and operators put a stop to theft, which depletes profits and harms the customer experience

The case of Amazon and Employee Montoring

Last week’s revelations of the lengths Amazon goes to monitor staff come amid growing evidence that thousands of other companies are using technology to check on workers

In Amazon warehouses, employees are monitored by sophisticated electronic systems to ensure they are packing enough boxes every hour. (Amazon came under fire in 2011 when workers in an eastern Pennsylvania warehouse toiled in more than 100-degree heat with ambulances waiting outside, taking away laborers as they fell. After an investigation by the local newspaper, the company installed air-conditioning.)

But in its offices, Amazon uses a self-reinforcing set of management, data and psychological tools to spur its tens of thousands of white-collar employees to do more and more. “The company is running a continual performance improvement algorithm on its staff,” said Amy Michaels, a former Kindle marketer.

The surveillance doesn't stop at employees. Amazon has a powerful lever: more data than any retail operation in history. Its perpetual flow of real-time, ultradetailed metrics allows the company to measure nearly everything its customers do: what they put in their shopping carts, but do not buy; when readers reach the “abandon point” in a Kindle book; and what they will stream based on previous purchases. It can also tell when engineers are not building pages that load quickly enough, or when a vendor manager does not have enough gardening gloves in stock.

Where are things heading 2016 and beyond?

Wearable health trackers
Activity-tracking devices made by companies like Fitbit, Jawbone and Misfit are increasingly popular gadget purchases, but they’re also making their way into the workplace: research firm Gartner estimates that 10,000 companies offered activity-trackers to staff in 2014. Their motivation is being questioned, Again where does the information go?

Monitoring your night-time habits
Personal sleep monitoring – sometimes using standalone devices or sometimes built in to fitness-trackers like Fitbit – sounds like a good idea, but would you want your employer to know how much shut-eye you’re getting? Meanwhile, a flurry of reports in 2013 called attention to the prospect of daily testing of employees’ alcohol levels, with fingerprint-scanning device AlcoSense TruTouch taking just 10 seconds to return a reading.

Augmented reality
From warehouse workers to plumbers and electricians, people will be able to access data and services with a flick of their eyes. The risks? Information overload: emails and notifications in your face throughout the day. The danger of an entire workforce becoming walking human CCTV cameras is not far from reality

Anonymous feedback tools
Amazon’s “secret feedback” system, used anonymously by employees to praise – or criticise – one another to bosses. Amazon claims most of the comments are positive but workers interviewed for the report said it could also be used to gang up on colleagues through coordinated campaigns of negative feedback. As this kind of “collaborative anytime feedback” technology spreads to other companies, moaning about colleagues in the pub could be replaced by anonymous complaints that feed directly into their performance reviews – and its anonymous nature may hamper their ability to defend themselves.

Driving-monitoring apps
Insurance companies including Aviva and Admiral have launched apps for drivers that score their driving safety based on cornering, braking and acceleration, and then offer the best ones a discount on their insurance.

Sociometric badges
That badge hanging from your neck to get in to your workplace? What if it also recorded your daily interactions? This is the idea behind sociometric badges, which capture “face-to-face interactions” of the wearer, as well as speech and body movement, then serve all this data up for analysis by employers.

Happiness analytics
Hitachi unveiled a new badge – slogan: “Human Big Data” – which aims to measure your happiness. How? A mysterious algorithm based on your physical activity, from how quickly you walk to how often you nod. Hitachi says this data will be aggregated to provide an overall happiness score for a workplace? Headworn devices Melomind and Thync, even claim to change your mood via electrodes stimulating the brain. The science remains under debate.

Facial recognition technology
Privacy concerns around facial recognition tend to focus on two areas: its use by police and the government in the monitoring of citizens, and the worry that if Facebook is working on it (which it is), it must be up to no good.. Think about fears of companies Googling potential employees using software to scan for their faces in photos across the web – from drunken nights out to public protests.

Security Drones
One of the uses being mooted is for building security: drones capable of zipping around buildings, filming any intruders. Concerns here about the question of whether these drones will also film staff, and what will happen to the footage.

Corporate security
Most of these changes in the workplace will create huge amounts of data on employees, from personal activity and email archives to photographs and footage of them going about their business. In an era of increased data collection within the workplace, what your employer plans to do with this data may be the least of your worries, hacking of your data from outside will be the new concern..

Legal Cases
Legal cases are started to spring up and there seems to be a cyber snooping revolution underway with not everybody submitting to this Orwellian style invasion and controlling of their lives.

Myrna Arias, a Southern California saleswoman for Intermex, a money-transfer company based company in Miami, was required to download an app on her cellphone that tracked her whereabouts 24 hours a day, she claims in a lawsuit now pending in federal court. Ms. Arias’s suit quotes her manager as saying, perhaps jokingly, that he knew how fast she was driving at all times.“Ms. Arias believed it was akin to wearing a felon’s ankle bracelet,” said her lawyer, Gail A. Glick. She deleted the app and was fired. Her suit, which accuses Intermex of invasion of privacy and wrongful termination, seeks $500,000 in lost wages. Neither Intermex nor its lawyers responded to requests for comment.

One of many cases that face recently gone to court with employees turning the tables on employers.


We have gone in the space of less than 100 years from clocking in and out cards and being watched occasionally by your boss to see that you are working to a world way beyond that even predicted by the George Orwell Book called 1984 which is basically about the New World Order in it's purest form.

Bodily functions, thoughts, happiness levels, movements, what you view on a computer, what you get up to on the weekends and way more are either being monitored now or will be in the very near future. Personal freedoms are being eroded in the workplace and with the disposable attitude to the modern day "zero hours contract" or "part time" workforce , employees just accept that this is the future and not much can be done about it. Every pillar in modern day society is heading in the same direction and is becoming digitised and monitored all in the name of productivity, safety and happiness and well being. The main worry is not the systems that are being implemented but the resulting data that is produced and where it all goes and what's done with it............that really is the burning question?

Bible Quotes:

This is a bible quote that was quoted by George Orwell in connection with the Book Film/1984. The orginal King James Version below

I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
Ecclesiastes 9:11

The original version interpreted by George Orwell?
“Objective consideration of contemporary phenomena compels the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.”

The first is The Word of God and the second is the word of man. You decide

Final Bible Quote to ponder over and not from The Book of Revelations that tackles this Privacy/Surveillance issue, this was written thousands of years ago?

Luke 12:1-3

1. In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.
2. For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known.
3. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.
Workplace Surveillance in 2016 and the George Orwell Predictions Workplace Surveillance in 2016 and the George Orwell Predictions Reviewed by Frank John on June 22, 2016 Rating: 5
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