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Many people browse the web from an employer who has rules about what types of pages may be accessed. For example, a person applying for a job with my team may include a link to a web page about their job-related background -- portfolio.html or whatever. HR tells us to be sure we don't follow links to any other page that may be more personal in nature, such as a page that reveals the applicant's marital status (which can't legally be considered in hiring decisions here). HR doesn't want to deal with complications from cases where we reject an applicant but there's a log entry showing a visit to, say, family.html from our company's IP address block. We'd prefer that prefetching isn't a default.

There's also log analysis to identify the set of web pages visited by each employee during work hours, and an attempt to programmatically estimate the amount of non-work-related web browsing. This feeds into decisions about promotions/termination/etc. Prefetching won't get anyone automatically fired, but we'd still prefer it isn't a default.






If you need people to design their websites around your companies HR metrics collection for them to work, then your HR department's metrics are the problem. The easiest way to improve productivity at your company could be to drastically cut HR funding, maybe HR should collect some metrics on how much time HR spends building datasets that aren't accurate.

I don't think it's a matter of HR necessarily. HR has guidelines because a lot of their job has to do with compliance. Big companies absolutely need large HR departments because a lot more regulations apply.

Which regulation states that promotions should be based on browser history?

While this is an approach you could take, it's not a very user friendly one. I agree with you that those HR policies sound draconian, but OP isn't necessarily in a position to challenge or change them.

In addition to being less user friendly, having the mindset that users/visitors to your website must live and work in ideal settings means that whatever you create will tend to be fragile and brittle because you don't try to take into account situations that you haven't seen before.


Jesus. I hope they pay you well for that.

I've heard a lot of stories of ridiculous rule-by-HR culture, but that's so extreme it sounds made up.


I don't think it's made up, because I experienced the same thing in a pretty well-known European research center...

Of course, had I known about these practices in advance, I would have declined the job offer. But I didn't. I ended up quitting a few weeks later anyway.

IT would monitor all connections from all employees and send a report to upper management with summary statistics, on a monthly basis.

I was told this was the case by a fellow worker during my second day there, so I tunneled my traffic through my home server via SSH. When IT asked me why I had zero HTTP requests, I reminded them that monitoring employees traffic was illegal under our current legislation. Doing this in a university-like non-profit research center is hard to justify.


So they asked you you are surfing the web on a insecure protocol that can compromise internal data ?

Couldn't you just say "I just dont use http anymore because this X company data is very valuable to me" ?


I don't see why it's hard to justify. They are providing facilities for you to perform the work they request, not for your personal benefit.

Invert the scenario: if they told you that you had to do work-based research on your own personal Internet connection, would that be OK? Any overage charges are yours to pay, no compensation.


The part about viewing family.html seems kind of understandable. If you assume no bad actors, then it's crazy... But we're all developers here, we know that you have to assume the existence of bad actors, and assume that they are going to target you (which is why we you always validate data client data server-side). I could see how viewing family.html could turn into a real headache for HR/Legal, especially if the law says that you can't discriminate based on family information.

The other part about log analysis seems crazy, though, I agree with you on that.


We're talking about evidence in a discrimination court case that points to an IP address associated with a company that visited /family.htm around the time someone applied for a job they didn't get. Like, that person went through their blog's access.log when they got home, defeatedly looking up IP addresses, and going "aha, jackpot!"? And everyone in the company hovers links to be sure they don't go to /as-a-black-man.htm during the hiring process? And the fear seriously is that prefetching might be what spurs this chain of events?

That sounds batshit insane.


Yes, I can't see how anyone could think this is sane in any sense. Brb putting my kids in my GitHub profile picture.

Just go right for the kill and put your marital status, ethnicity, and sexual preferences right below your name on your resume. That way they're trapped the instant they open it!

A while back I saw a chrome extension that hid profile pictures on GitHub specifically for this reason.

One of my biggest career goals is never to work in a company like that. A company that micromanages me to the point they search my fucking internet history to decide my termination doesn't deserve my technical skills.

Double True!

The second hn item today that made me agree that developers need a union.

I always let my team browse Facebook, if they wanted. One of my top people browsed it the most out of everyone. If you block a page, then they will just use their phone.

If you are going to measure, then measure outputs. Measuring inputs will make you and your team equally unhappy.


Measuring Output! Especially true for which their job require more thinking than actual labour. It doesn't matter how much time he spent on it, as long as it gets done. And more often, you actually need to play a game, relax or something different before coming back and solve the problem in seconds as compare to staring at it for hours and not getting anywhere.

Sounds terrible: An automated analysis of an employee's behaviour linked to promotions and even terminations? Should be outright illegal.

The webbrowsing of other people is their private matter. If you think someone is surfing the web too much (or taking too many coffee breaks, or leaning on the shovel for a minute or any other normal activity people do to take little breaks from work), it's on leadership to tell the person to get back to work, or generally, create a work environment where work flows more naturally.

Logs are for investigations in case of crimes etc.

I read so many things here on HN that are illegal in Germany. We have laws and powerful worker representation that prevents dehumanitzing stuff like that but, often, things started in the US find their way over here....


> There's also log analysis to identify the set of web pages visited by each employee during work hours, and an attempt to programmatically estimate the amount of non-work-related web browsing.

If your company is doing that, then do not browse on company time and/or using company equipment at all. Ever. They obviously don't (or for regulatory reasons, can't) trust you, so you should treat them as an adversary for your own good.

Remember: HR exists to protect the company, not the employees.


Any companies with such onerous policies could block sites like instant.page at the firewall.

Why would they block being handed extra leverage over their employees?

I had seen that kind of firewall before when a sale presented what his firewall is capable of at company I worked with. I'm not sure how I felt back then.

I mean that firewall was used to track every website you browse and other evil stuff.


>This feeds into decisions about promotions/termination/etc.

Where do you work that makes tolerating that level of idiotic behavior worth it? It the job super interesting or the pay above market rate? If not, there are much greener pastures my friend.

Companies that treat their employees like morons eventually push out everyone who is not one.


That sounds like hell.

> Many people browse the web from an employer who has rules about what types of pages may be accessed.

I think only very few people browse the web from an employer who has rules about what types of pages can be fetched. As a web developer, if I can make a faster experience for 99% of my population at the cost of potentially annoying the HR department of some tiny fraction of them, I'm going to do it. And I won't feel bad about making it slightly more difficult for my site's visitors' management to effectively surveil their browsing habits -- not my problem!


That story about 'personal' pages sounds like an excuse for tracking what you do on your computer. I'd look for a different job if I were you to be honest. It sounds like a toxic environment to work in.

Could you say what company this is, so that I can make sure I never work there?

You can surf with JavaScript turned off, or use your private mobile phone.

Just wondering, which continent are you located in?

Does your company tell its' employees about their Orwellian policies upfront when hiring, or is it a public secret?

How do you deal with encrypted traffic, e.g. https?

Some companies simply filter web traffic via corporate white/blacklists, maybe you have some insights why an illusion of freedom has been chosen in your company?


You should find a different company to work for.

Sounds like prefetching is good for you, since greater prefetching provides greater plausible deniability.

Tbh I would have been fired the next day.

P.S: Using HN at my office. Was looking at career pages of other software companies a while ago.


I hope I never end up in your dystopian part of the world.

Is there a novel about this company?



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