ubikcan

January 26, 2007

Geoslavery in the workplace

Filed under: politics, Surveillance — ubikcan @ 9:22 pm

A Reuters news stories about geoslavery today was picked up by MSNBC and the New York Press.

You may remember that geoslavery is the term invented by the American Geographical Society President, Jerry Dobson to refer to the surveillance and tracking of people, objects and things. Dobson warns that human tracking will “offer a new form of human slavery based on location control.”

MSNBC writes under the banner headline:

N.Y. scanners spark union cries of ‘geoslavery’
Will technology for security be used to track, label and control workers?

NEW YORK – Every morning Dennis Colson, a surveyor at New York City’s Department of Design and Construction, begins his work day by placing his hand on a scanner to log his time and attendance at the office.

The use of hand geometry and other biometric data, like facial and iris recognition, is not new — the University of Georgia pioneered the use of hand geometry when it installed scanners in its student dining hall in 1974.

But the planned roll-out of hand geometry scanners in all New York City government agencies has sparked union cries of “geoslavery” and assertions that technology developed for security will be used to track, label and control workforces.

The story observes that workplace monitoring is common:

In 2004, U.S. employers reportedly spent $9 billion on monitoring devices for the workplace, while a 2005 survey by American Management Association and The ePolicy Institute found 76 percent of companies monitor workers Web site use.

The survey of 526 U.S. companies also showed 36 percent of employers track computer content, keystrokes and time spent at the keyboard, while half store and review employees’ computer files and 55 percent retain and review e-mail messages.

An expert says its not about biometrics:

Biometrics expert Jim Wayman, who consults for the U.S., British and Australia governments, said mobile phones and credit cards were the “No. 1 enemies” for workers worried about geoslavery, not biometrics.

But it’s not biometrics at stake in geoslavery: Dobson was clear that it was location control and monitoring, what Monmonier called the right to have your location privacy.

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