"telling employees to download an app on their personal phones that would check their location and ensure they were working their scheduled hours."
Why someone is obliged to install something on a private phone? What if someone does not have smartphone, what if that phone will stop working, who is to blame, who is responsible for fixing it, how quickly - will an employee sign SLA for fixing the phone?
Employer should provide a phone for an employee and then whatever employer wants can be installed there. If something does not work, well, it is up to employer to provide support.
Buy a scanner. Put it in somewhere the building which is accessible by employees (eg custodial office). Give each employee a unique, scannable card with which to identify themselves. Instruct employees to clock in and out by scanning the card.
Mission accomplished. No phones or location tracking necessary.
What this person's employer did should be illegal, and that extends to other industries as well. A shipping company can track their trailer or their shipments, but they shouldn't be allowed to track the truck driver himself.
I think something like that is fine and reasonable if your job is to move about a building.
The Culture series seems to create a platonic ideal of a post-scarcity pseudo-anarchistic liberal society under technocratic governance, and explores its interactions with the outside world.
Though the details of that society's implementation may be somewhat distasteful to me personally, it seems the author is more than willing to critique the society and its behavior from as good a faith a position as he took to create it.
Manna doesn't do the same.
SPOILERS FOR MANNA AHEAD
Brain constructed the Australia Project as a desirable alternative to the corporatist dystopia of the United States - where the majority of the population has been rendered technologically obsolete, and are held in cheap public housing where they wait to die. Despite what he may claim, he writes the Australia Project less as an exploration, and more as a sales brochure.
Brain breathlessly and uncritically describes the Australia Project as heaven on earth, or a 'luxury cruise'. In the process of doing so, he leaves little nuggets of text that suggest a much grimmer reality than he lets on at surface level.
Luxury Cruise is an apt description. You may be there to relax, but the experience is purposeless without the contrast of your real life. The ship may be stocked to the gills, but when things go belly up it quickly becomes clear how constrained the ship's resources truly are. You may be free to have fun now, but upset the wrong person on staff or become even a minor nuisance, and you'll soon learn how autocratically the ship is actually ran.
It's made quite clear that Australia cannot truly be considered a post-scarcity society. In AP, no individual's activities may exceed their allotment of resources (and certainly, there must be an allotment because one's resource consumption cannot come at the expense of another's)
In AP, anyone may be free to create, make, or do whatever they want, but whatever they want is tightly constrained.
No individual's activities may make anyone uncomfortable. This is reflected in Brain's description of the criminal justice system, where he describes automated 'referees' detaining or potentially pre-empting citizen's control over their own bodies in response to an emotional outburst in public, "mainly because no one wants to be around when it happens". He describes this as if it were desirable. If this is seen as a proportional response, I would be terrified for anyone who sought to do or say anything of real consequence.
Finally, as evinced by my previous two examples: everything in Brain's world is on lease, down to your body. Once you're inside of the AP's network every sensation, sight, smell and action is recorded, analyzed, and mediated through it.
Your permission to use your body may be revoked at the leisure of an algorithm perfectly enforcing complex rules of indeterminate (if ostensibly democratic) origin. This happens so often it seems, that it's regard as "sort of like a lifeguard yelling at you at the pool for something you thought was OK".
Your privacy is forfeit, and it's quite clear that the closes thing one can come to owning anything in the AP is inside a virtual space.
Somehow Brain treats this as an ideal future. If this is the best we can hope for, I would sooner be drafted into WWIII than experience it.
But I wouldn't go so far as to say that the next generation values its privacy less than the previous. If anything, my observations would suggest it's the opposite.
The amount of energy and expertise required to function in society while avoiding the excesses of corporate surveillance has simply expanded past the point where people can realistically fight it. Younger people know that the war is lost.
No significant segment of the population truly appreciates the scale, and the precision with-which they're being tracked. But among my younger friends and family, there seems to be a persistent appreciation that privacy is a precious commodity in very short supply. They may not always be cognizant of it, of course. They grew up in this world, and it's impractical to think about the air you breath all the time, even if it's thick with smog. It's simply not realistic. They do intuitively know which battles are lost, moreso than 'older' folk past their late 20s who vividly remember the advent of Facebook, who like to grouse about the tracking of social media while aggressively ignoring the fact that the little spy in their pocket would be just as insidious in its violations with or without any apps installed.
But you need a phone to function in the modern world. You'll never be able to truly escape the panopticon without a great deal of money, and if you could you would have to leave everyone you ever knew behind, and many of your prospects to do so. And after all, it's not bit you yet. Better to resign yourself to what's already lost.
The Europeans I've known have generally been less reticent in their acceptance of the state of the world, FWIW.
To your second point...
My instincts, and my morality tells me we'd be better off with the prisons, and possibly the sanitariums. Not because of the potential downstream consequences, but because to psychologically muzzle anyone like that without their active and continuous consent would be an atrocity of the first order. Our criminal justice system in America is often abysmal. But at least our prisoners are not lobotomized for the comfort of those of us who find the idea of prisons offensive. They're granted at the very least, the dignity to resent those who locked them up.
I believe you're right, these are for the time hypotheticals. Tomorrow is a foreign land, but it's a foreign land in-which many of us will live. Regardless, it's incumbent on each and every one of us to ensure that that land shares in what virtues we consider right, and just.
But at least our prisoners are not lobotomized for the
comfort of those of us who find the idea of prisons
offensive. They're granted at the very least, the
dignity to resent those who locked them up.
Library books in my area use NFC, the tags weren't locked on the last book I checked.
Probably not a security problem (ha!?), but you'd think the possibility of vandalism would cause them to be locked.
Carrying a phone with a tracker is a complete BS.
Logbooks: someone needs to distribute them, collect them, read them, transfer the (many many many) written lines to a computer, validate the signature samples/writing style, etc. etc. An app that automates that in 2 mins is so much better.
A solution could be: 1) give each employee a (corporate) cheap $100 android phone, 2) configure these to allow only 1-2 apps to 'escape' to the internet so the bandwidth is not wasted on updates or browsing, 3) provide a 1GB per year data plan, 4) ask them to switch on right before entering the 'site' and switch off right when they leave the 'site' 5) give them a monthly $5 subsidy to keep it charged.
This would cover some of the functions. How about overtime? How about 'less time'? How about an extra Sudnay because game/football/concert/office-party?
The HR of each company would need this data to adjust salaries.
I am not discussing incidents and/or user-access-management (apologies if my above comment was misunderstood). I meant it for time-tracking purposes. An app where one can add an exception note "I had to pop to X shop to buy Y material" would also help document and approve. Geofencing requirement makes sense in some lines of work and a work-phone (switched on only the work-hours) is a reasonably 'invasive' tool.
I've seen these logs and to me it always seemed that the point was for customers to see that the place was actually maintained. A customer can't tell whether a bathroom is cleaned only once a month and that's why it looks the way it does or whether the last guy just trashed the place after the last cleaning, which was an hour ago and based on the previous logs you can see, it will be cleaned again soon. Or that the cleaners didn't clean and just wrote on the paper. Which technology doesn't solve. You just wave the badge or whatever but don't do anything. And no, location tracking doesn't help with that. A dedicated slacker can listen to music or watch YouTube in different locations.
It’s also not on the workers’ personal phones, they have some old phones that they keep at the store with the app already installed.
An app on a personal phone can violate this way too easily. The tagging system is a good way to do it and limit it to only being on the clock.
Though highly-overlapping, this is not a 1:1 correspondence with "tracking employees."
You may need to know that a security guard visited this station at 1:00 and this station at 1:30. You do not need to track whether he was in the bathroom five minutes longer today that yesterday.
The app isn't to know whether you're on the clock; the app is a digital whip cracker to keep employees constantly working 100% of the time that they claim to be working.
Which, in theory, wouldn't be a bad thing... if this was combined with a sufficient number of break-minutes per day, to be spent flexibly. Whenever you're not doing the "doing your job" movement pattern, the app could automatically mark you as being on break. If they calibrated the number of break-minutes to the actual average observed productivity of employees in each role across the industry, then the app would have a useful output — allowing employers to figure out who's doing less work than average. (And employees+unions could also use the data as evidence for uncompensated overtime disputes.)
But of course such a system won't be used/configured that way. Employers will instead wrong-headedly assume that their employees should be capable of productive output 100% of the time that they're not on their 90 minutes per shift of legally-mandated break time; and then will randomly punish/fire employees for taking "extra" breaks, even when those "extra" breaks merely bring them to the industry average level of productivity.
Janitorial work — like, say, being a sysadmin — doesn't necessarily result in instant visible problems if you just decide to skip work one day. The problems are probabilistic, and often consist of smaller problems that compound over time. In this sort of job, you can frequently "get away with" not doing your job for a few hours, at the expense of working a bit harder the rest of the day; you can sometimes even "get away with" not doing your job for a day or two, at the expense of likely having to do a bit of "fire-fighting" work when you get back, rather than only prophylactic maintenance work. In either case, your absence won't necessarily be noted, if you're not part of a team with a supervisor specifically attuned to the KPIs you're delivering on.
In jobs where "when you're doing the job right, nobody notices", the reverse also applies: as long as nobody is noticing anything going wrong, then they assume you're doing your job.
In your sysadmin example if someone prevents problems from happening they'd look worse than someone who constantly reacts. This already happens, why make it worse with an automated system?
I’d say it’s more accurate that humans have had to rely on trust due to lack of alternatives, but transparency will always be preferred.
In general I think some things scale well and others don't. Why is it that HN recognizes outsourcing your tech to try and scale fails but other jobs aren't as worthy?
If they don't have that capability then they shouldn't be managing that type of work. That goes for any industry.
You're not fit for management if you can't judge the work of those you are managing.
i mean, a toilet might need to be descaled. the well to tell is to look at the toilet.
In a school district where they have custodial staff on the payroll (not contracted) there's also sometime a bit of on-call.
I presume there was a job which needed doing, which is why management hired someone to do it. Management may have difficulty evaluating the quality or extent of the work done on any given day, but they should at least be able to evaluate whether it was done at all.
My point is location tracking doesn't provide management any assurances that the employee has done their job at all, much less how well they did it. It's a breach of the employee's privacy which doesn't even further management's goals any more than my privacy-respecting scanner solution.
One of my businesses is currently involved in a lawsuit by someone claiming they suffered a loss due to injury from stepping on a landscaping rock (about 3in x 2in x 1in) in the parking lot. They apparently took a picture of the rock, which was adjacent to the curb. The lawyer is claiming the business is responsible for ensuring the parking lot is clear of obstacles.
The crux of the case is not about whether or not this event even took place or if this person is faking it, they don’t have to prove that without wasting a lot of my insurance company’s money. The important part of the case is whether or not the business took reasonable steps to ensure the parking lot was free of obstruction.
For this, the plaintiff’s lawyer has deposed the facilities’ manager, the landscaping company, and any staff working that day. All incredibly costly procedural tactics to try and get a settlement. Which they most likely will get from the insurance company.
However, these legal costs might be avoided if I could produce electronic logs proving the facilities manager performed routine inspection duties. This is one example of when breaching an employees’ privacy in the manner in question can further management’s goal (and bottom line).
It's the same issue. Knowing where the janitor was is not the same as knowing whether she did her job. Knowing where your facilities manager was is not the same as knowing whether he did his.
Like I said, IANAL. I have no idea how well that would hold up in court. Regardless, I'm confident security cameras would be at least just as effective for defending your business in cases like this.
Any holes in the offense don’t matter, because the plaintiff isn’t going to suffer any loss, and their lawyer is working on commission.
So the only person that stands to lose is business and insurance company. Insurance company will fight if it’s open and shut, meaning they don’t think they will have to risk a lot of legal fees trying to shoot down various plaintiff’s claims.
But if it looks like plaintiff could drag this out and find a possibility of culpability on behalf of the business, the insurance company will pay to make them go away. And the business’ insurance premiums will rise.
Security camera footage would of course be the gold standard in this case. But storing video for so long and having so many cameras is also costly. Using GPS to prove your employee did their duties of at least inspecting the parking lot by showing they walked around it at various times might be something the insurance company can use in their defense.
Also, in my specific example, the plaintiff waited almost 11 months to file their lawsuit. These type of people know to wait as long as the legal system allows them to, to increase the likelihood the business has misplaced or thrown out records and memories get fuzzy.
If that's the case, isn't your business already going what is "reasonable" by virtue of employing a facilities manager whose job includes ensuring the grounds are clear of dangerous obstructions while the facility is in operation?
Regardless, this scenario doesn't really jive with my assertion that it should be illegal for employers to track their employees. Were that the case, the court's definition of what is "reasonable" could not include maintaining records of your employees' locations throughout the workday, as doing so would be illegal. Although your scenario does at least provide a hypothetical for why a business would consider tracking employees in the absence of such a law. Hopefully courts never set a precedent to actively encourage that kind of tracking.
The ability to track people's precise locations due to the proliferation of smartphones and various wireless technologies is pretty new, and probably hasn't been tested in various court cases yet.
I know at one point, it was enough to have paper logs of your drivers. But now, electronic GPS tracking is so cheap and commonplace, that the court might say as a business, it is your responsibility to utilize it to ensure your drivers are not regularly speeding.
The problem with civil cases is there are few well defined standards. And if you're in the sweet spot where your business is doing well enough to be a nice target, but not well enough to have lawyers on staff who can deal with swatting them down, then you've got some decent risk exposure you need to address. And the best way to do that is to have as much information as possible.
I'm sure the only reason this issue of tracking is coming up is only because it's so incredibly cheap to track them, since the employee already has a phone on them, the access points or wireless signals are already there, it costs almost nothing to physically download the app and enable functionality, and it costs almost nothing to store this data. At that point, it's a calculation of do we spend this minimal fee to protect from a host of litigation where we can prove this person was at this place at this time.
I find that many of my friends who are office employees or haven't operated a public facing business are unaware of these types of problems that you don't have to deal with when you don't physically entertain random people of the public, thereby greatly reducing your risk exposure to these kinds of scams.
>Regardless, this scenario doesn't really jive with my assertion that it should be illegal for employers to track their employees.
Yes, if it was illegal, it would eliminate this problem. But my intent was to show that at least some of the impetus might not be to make the employees' life worse.
There's a boss somewhere who didn't look into this well enough.
Both are used heavily in tracking apps ( think shopkick if it still exists )
To me, this sounds like one layer of bureaucrats trying to justify their jobs. Truth is, with unionized school districts, for every custodian doing the job, minor maintenance and inspections, there are a few bureaucrats in offices looking at spreadsheet and attending government sponsored management seminars on how to streamline the organization...
If you cannot tell the space has been cleaned, get new glasses.
If you can tell and it is dirty, give me a warning and then fire me.
Which do we reward?
And if you're indoors in a public business setting, there's a near certainty you're on camera for any big business. Of course, there's a difference in tracking minute by minute movement, but my point is that we went from no tracking to quite a bit of tracking already, and I don't see any reason why this won't become widespread either (absent laws preventing it).
Over a few months, I designed and implemented an algorithm for counting the distance travelled off-road. It took a TomTom road map of the whole country (not a cheap license fee), divided the trip into pairs of points, checked whether each segment intersected with or came within 10m of a road, and finally made a total of the distance. There were deviations (odometer compared to on road + off road straight line distance) but it was good enough to be usable, and we shipped it. It also generated reports for reclaiming road tax for off-road driving.
In practice, the client realised that our $7 per vehicle per month fee for the service will only save them $2 or $3 in road taxes for their most off-road vehicle. Just because it's technically exciting doesn't make it financially logical.
Also, a nifty feature of these things as explained to me by the on-site guy dealing with electronics (including the management of these keys): these keys could be managed in different ways, e.g. grouped for departments, grunts vs. managers etc. AND the settings didn't have to be flashed to every single key or every single activation station, but instead flashed to one key (like the one of this employee) who then went around to a couple of stations and "activated" his key again, thereby transferring the updated/new setting(s) to the station which would then update every key inserted into it etc. etc.
Meaning the key management was quite literally "viral".
I know a number of truck drivers and they _hate_ it. Routing software is imperfect, accidents happen that have to be detoured, and every detour is another grilling by management who is staring you down like you're an inbred imbecile and asking "Why did you deviate?" They often well know why, but the procedure is clear. You just don't hear about it from truckers because the job is mercurial - turnover is high because the conditions suck, and its a lower item in a laundry list of grievances that truckers have.
And if I'm frank; A lot of people don't hear about it on this forum because they move in a different economic circle.
Being constantly overwatched and second-guessed is demeaning. It ruins work-place dignity, ensures there is no sense of trust between labor and leadership, and removes any feelings of agency from the laborer. As with any data-collecting system, it will also be relentlessly gamed.
Worse, you can have your cake and eat it too. You almost never need momentary data like this to check-and-balance your workplace. Why track drivers relentlessly when you can do statistical data analysis on order completion, fuel consumption, route times, and other models that allow you to average out all the chaos?
Results will speak for themselves, relationships will pay off. The solution to this 'problem' already exists, it's engaging with your workforce and focusing on results. It is bad. It's dehumanization in the workplace. The system worked just fine when people clocked in, clocked out, and the manager looked and said, "Yep, that hall is clean."
I wouldn't accept a keylogger, or strict grilling of my web history. I wouldn't accept being sleuthed on by my manager either. Humans deserve a base level of dignity in the work-place.
Every group though would go though the 'you are spying on me' to 'love it'. Recover 1 or 2 stolen loads and suddenly that entire terminal would love the thing. Also at the time electronic logs let most drivers get a pass from the cops. The cops would take one look at it and nope out. I doubt it is that way anymore. Most of the time we encouraged the dispatchers to look for deviation of norm and encourage the drivers to note it (most systems have this built in) and it is in the law anyway even when you had to do it by hand. Mostly it caught that one group of dudes who had particular strip joints they would swing by on the clock. Which was a more of 'dont care you go, but I am not paying for it'. This usually made them even more mad. Mostly because of embarrassment, and the loss of income. Your idea of 'average it out' is exactly how it used to be done (and is still in some cases). But the thing is LTL, short, long haul has razor thin margins. If your average is higher than someone else's they will beat you out in the end. You add in more tracking (because your competitor will) as you need to find those spots where the average is not right and skewed because of years of doing it a different way.
If you have dispatchers getting mad for a 20 min deviation then the dispatcher is using the system wrong. The proper way to correct that is for the drivers to talk to them and use the built in messaging systems. If that does not work, document it and take it up with his boss or the shop steward. The dispatcher is probably hot because he had to pay OT to 3 other guys who should have clocked out 2 hours ago because you are late and now they left and no one to unload your stuff. His boss is mad at him because he is 6% overbudget again this month. All because some DOT guy in another state is 6 weeks behind doing their job and has half the interstate down to 1 lane for 30 miles.
Given all of that. I would never be a driver. It is a low trust environment... Hence the tracking.
One thing is for sure, when we are going to be hacked completely it won’t be solar winds it’ll be all these spyware security programs of the week.
Pickup phone at the start of the day, check in, toss it in a pocket and go to work. Check out, put phone in locker or some storage... done.
But just to expand on that.
I think this is one of those things that also kinda demonstrates a lack of faith and trust between the employer and employee and can be damaging to the whole relationship.
When I had my first job as a manager (low level technical support job) I was a jerk. Not in what I said but in enforcing rules about what is on people's PCs and etc, because that was how that place operated so I did too. One guy on the verge of quitting asked me "Does any of this really matter / help me do my job?" I realized ... probably not / this was a total hassle for me, and him, and everyone. It was just a big distrusting type environment we had going on. I told him and the rest of my team "I'm not checking PCs anymore or anything like that, just be responsible, make good choices."
What happened? The team was happier, and nothing bad happened. I was happier at work, so were they, and I saw customer satisfaction (granted that's a shaky metric) go up ... I assume because everyone was happier / more pleasant to talk to with the customers.
Ages later... I still feel kinda dumb about the whole thing. I really emulated the whole asshole hall monitor type thing for a while. It was completely without value / detrimental.
This has historically always been an issue in many workplaces. Especially in jobs were people are "interchangeable" and easily replaced and has no leverage, because in those kinds of job the threshold before having the kind of conversation you related becomes much higher, and the incentive for listening lower.
The infamous Triangle Waistcoat Factory fire , for example, was as lethal as it was because employers locked the factory doors to prevent unauthorised breaks.
The worst excesses were stopped because they outright killed people and the technological alternatives were not there. But increasingly technology is becoming a way of virtually caging people instead of actually caging them.
If you do things differently, you open yourself up to criticism and if anything does go bad, you're likely never going to hear the end of it.
Good on you for stopping that vicious circle and being an example of a good manager.
If I hire a security patrol company, and they contract to provide a patrol that will visit twice a night and walk around the building, nonperformance would be almost undetectable.
Tracking location by the second isn't necessary and can be defeated with a rc car and a piece of tape by a 6 year old or robot (the tommy robot from the 80s would be perfect) or drone if you want to stay upto date.
> The app, called Blip, generates a geofence — a virtual boundary, created by the employer using GPS — that detects when an employee enters or leaves.
Don't get me wrong, I despise this but it's not tracking strictly speaking.
But to do that you have to share location permissions all the time with the app. And you have to trust it enough to give it those permissions.
Also here's a solution with no app and no location tracking: detect when a phone has connected to on-premise WiFi.
I was about to suggest the same. Always-on location tracking is an extremely lazy and disrespectful way to replace a punch card.
Here's your replacement app:
- When arriving at work, you open the app while on employer's WiFi and tap "Start my shift"
- Before leaving work, you open the app and tap "End my shift" (but this is not required)
- During your shift, the service tries to periodically validate that your phone is still on WiFi (via LAN pings, silent push notifications that trigger checkins, or background polling)
- During your shift, if the service can't verify that your phone is still on the WiFi for 30+ minutes, it sends you a push notification asking you to open the app and check in. Otherwise, it ends your shift.
- If there's some WiFi dead zone in the workplace where they need to work for more than an hour, give the employee the option to respond with a one-time GPS location instead of joining the WiFi.
Boom. This was not hard. Doesn't even need internal infrastructure; can do this whole thing based on WAN IPs.
Told my manager I simply wouldn't use it and why and he gave me permission to use the webapp on the company issued laptops.
Last thing I need is my manager seeing me traversing the city drunk at 2am or whatever. I'm not on their time so whatever I'm doing is none of their business.
A user cannot elect to grant "geofencing only" permission. And even if they could, users have no way to audit the geofence coordinates to verify that they are being used in the described manner.
Even if implemented exactly as described, it's not hard to see why this can still leak non-work-related personal data. If an employee walks past their workplace at 2 AM, that's not information that an employer should have.
It's completely unreasonable to expect employees to consent to location tracking when they aren't at work. But if the employer is requiring use of a smartphone app as condition of employment, they need to provide and pay for the device and service, period.
I disagree strongly because this is the typical frog in boiling water scenario. You don't see it coming untill it is too late.
Truck drivers are not tracked individually instead the trucks they drive are. This is very different to tracking a human being, even if it is under the guise of a phone.
Also a HN reader should at least be able to foresee the dystopian future this leads to. Data analytics on toilet breaks, and how employee 115 seems to take longer than the average by 10% which is now a metric for some middle manager to use.
Truck drivers and their families did and still do make a fuss about it. It's just not something that the media or wider culture has cared about.
There are pretty strict legal limits (in the US at least) over how long a driver can be on the road without taking a break.
In fact, unless they only hire owner-operators, falling asleep at the wheel and causing an accident will almost certainly jack up the company's insurance rates, much worse than them running behind an overly tight schedule.
An abusive trucking company can accuse their drivers of steeling trucks or cargo when they're behind schedule. I've never heard of that happening, but I don't doubt the poster who said it does. It's too bad we don't come down harder on those who make such bad faith accusations of steeling.
Either the driver has a right to be in the truck, at the location he is at, or not. If he does, the police don't care, because there is no crime. If he doesn't, that is theft.
If it is theft, they don't let the driver drive on with a promise to behave; the truck (and all the goods in it) get impounded to be claimed by the company and the driver gets hauled off to jail. That would be a way worse outcome for the company.
This is not true. There have been some massive protests from truck drivers over this issue and it's a big turnoff for many potential and current drivers.
Come to think of it this might be a really good reason to get an obscure phone (PinePhone?) as your personal phone so they can't do this.
"Yeah, this is my phone, sorry, your app won't work with it"
But regardless, employers should provide a work phone if they want an app installed, and the work phone should NOT have to be carried around 24/7 unless it's an on-call rotation, and in which case the rotation duty cycle should be limited to a reasonable number e.g. 10% or less.
Get the cheapest tablet you can find that's reliable and has GPS. Whack the location app on that. Stick a todo list on it that they can push items to. Sorted.
Tie the todo list to the locations and leave it on the cart - you can track the work instead of the person. It doesn't matter if they've gone outside for a smoke, it matters that the work's getting done.
Truck drivers are often in their trucks but they are not personally tracked. There is a difference. If the sanitation workers mop and bucket were tracked it would still be silly but much less offensive than asking someone to download a tracking app on their personal device that much be with them at all times.
I certainly cannot agree with requiring workers to use their own phone for this. if the company wants that app then it should provide the phone or use another means to guarantee they are on site.
Truckers being tracked is because the penalties involved are very real and enforced for reasons of safety to drivers and other users of the nations roads. tracking someone cleaning buildings or homes is a bit on the absurd side as most of us agree
But that is actually wrong.
Suppose I have two devices: work and personal. Suppose I have the choice where to install this thing.
I'm going to put it on my personal one, and leave that at my post while I go for that three hour luch. I will take the work device, so I can monitor what is going on at work, and be prepared to scurry back on a moment's notice.
Ideally, I would get some second personal device for this app, like an old phone I no longer use. Leave that at work, and go for the three hour lunch with both the work device and the non-decoy personal one.
This is different than say, a software developer's computer tracking their location for purely surveillance reasons.
That would put the responsibility on Mary to maintain the phone in working order, and the employer could refuse to pay unless both things they are paying for are present and correct.
It's a scummy practice, sure, but hiring two things as a package isn't illegal in itself.
I believe this would technically depend on whether one is employed or self-employed.
Only self-employed people are generally obligated to provide tools of their trade; whereas, personal tracking strongly implies employment. It shouldn't be both. (This all may depend on jurisdiction and specific circumstances, obviously)
Given that the article clearly says the person was employed before being required to download an app, this also feels like a breach of contract by the employer.
In your terms: They employed the worker, not the worker and their phone.
One day my boss asked if I would install this authentication app on my phone, so I would be able to push changes. I refused, stating that my phone is my private property. This resulted in quite a long conversation, with reassurances about security, etc. but I didn't budge. At one point they stated that my "argument wouldn't work" if it was on a company-provided phone. I completely agreed and said that would be fine, which seemed to surprise them.
I don't think it had even occurred to them that I was being honest: I didn't want to install random things on my phone. I wasn't making up some excuse to avoid being on call in the early hours.
(Of course, I also wasn't going to suggest a way to end up on call in the early hours!)
They probably get an unsolicited email every 10 days, just like I do, from slackbot, asking them to install the slack desktop client to get a "better experience," because someone at work added you to the slack channel. Only they don't realize that the slack desktop app is just a second web browser dedicated to going to slack.com, that they are running while they are presumably running their first web browser. Slackbot doesn't tell you that you are wasting compute having two browsers open, just that it's 'better' somehow than running the site on the browser you already have open. It also isn't very clear that once you have slack open, all your coworkers can see you are "available" like its 2001 and you are logging into AIM.
Even if they don't, I'd assume they would uninstall it as quick as they installed it when they start receiving notifications from colleagues during their break lunch or on the weekend. But it doesn't seem to be what the majority of people do. Not sure why people feel morally or socially obligated to keep checking what's going on at work on a 24/7 basis.
I wonder if there is a link with Twitter/Facebook/Instagram addictions.
I think slack knows a certain amount of people are like this, and have crafted the patterns in their product to maximize this behavior. That's why I get many notification emails a day that frequently leave out messages or repeat ones I've been sent already, to maximize my time checking the main client and be thinking of slack throughout the working day. Slack wants organizations to feel reliant on its services, even when it does little more in practice than email threads have done for my org at least.
I don't mind using resources on my personal device, I mind the access to my personal information. Carrying two phones vs. one for isolation make sense, but if the isolation can be done in hardware/software on the same device it's much easier for me.
I always ask why should I keep in touch with work during my private time. If it is really important, one could call my phone. If one does not bother to find my phone number, that means it is not urgent at all.
How did your situation work out?
If we're suddently ok with all kinds of intrusions, just because we got agree phone, that seems like a bad deal.
I didn't hear anything else about it ;)
I ended up leaving after a pretty gruelling death-march (full backend replacement, with a "big bang" switchover). That switched a lot of things to .Net, which is a path I didn't want to go down in any case.
God this made me nauseous just reading it.
I don't want to carry around two devices so I'd much rather have company apps on my phone. Obviously, that is as long as the apps seem resonable, like a 2FA app. If I had to install "person location tracker by shadycorp" I'd just refuse even on a corporate phone.
But 2FA app on my personal phone vs being required to carry 2 devices? I think the first is much more appealing.
That's 100% illegal on this side of the pond at least, if the company wants an employee to use an app they can provide a company phone. Then sure, whatever, she could switch the business phone off after hours, no problem at all.
Interestingly enough the app is built by a company in the UK.
The UK is a rich man's country
And also the company's ability to trust their employees, but that's another discussion.
- "Toronto employment lawyer Lior Samfiru told Go Public that employers can compel employees to download an app on their cell phone — but only if they're told it's a requirement when they are hired."
Now, I am amazed that an employer can legally have rights on other properties (hardware and data), and we are speaking of Canada here. I fear to know what they can do on more liberal countries (like the usa).
I think you're misunderstanding the page. The employer is always required to provide a reason, whether you worked somewhere 1 week, 1 year, or 20 years. It's just that within the first 2 years of employment you don't have the right to challege the dismissal UNLESS it was for a discriminatory reason. But yes, no employer ever would say "we're letting you go because you're pregnant"(or maybe they would).
>> It's "at will" employment like the US.
Well, not quite. They still have to legally give you notice(only 1 week is required legally if you worked less than 2 years, but yes).
What you cannot do is challege as dismissal as unfair for any non-discriminatory reason. It has absolutely nothing to do with what the employer wrote down as the reason for dismissal, it's the question of what grounds are you challenging them on.
When my brother came back to Australia after 5 years away he said the biggest thing he noticed was not driving on the wrong side of the road, not the weather, not the food, not the accents - it was how people are treated at their jobs.
Some details I don't understand, and I may be misremembering, but the gist was:
- they were (under?)-employed within their field, at an okay job
- they had health benefits
- they had had a major health condition which caused them to now have a pre-existing condition (cancer? I don't recall.)
- they were now in a situation where-in if they lost their job, or COBRA coverage for 2+ months, they lapsed out of their existing policy
- they would then have to apply for health insurance coverage with a "pre-existing condition" which would not be covered (by the normal policies?)
So now they were very clearly and palpably tied to their health insurance and by extension to the company that employed them, and felt very uneasy about going through the hiring / probation period somewhere else.
I may have the major details wrong there, feel free to correct me if I do.
But if someone offered to take it off their plate, absent proportionately higher taxes, I cannot see any business outcry.
If real slavery was still legal it wouldn’t even be used because the paycheque to paycheque employee model is so much more cost efficient.
Eventually we will reach an equilibrium where there will be just enough vultures out there to eat exactly how many slices there are left in the pie. Complete extraction of 'disposable' income will be achieved this century. For working people in major cities, some are already being completely extracted like this, having to work multiple jobs to keep a roof overhead and bellies fed with no time to do something that isn't low skilled labor for capital.
Chattel slavery involved practically-legal murder, beating, children born into slavery, rape, and a laundry list of horrifying things. This is bad, but we can come up with a term for "oppressive labor conditions" which is not "slavery".
An amazing point getting recognized more and more.
If you are broke you are gonna have an impossible time lining up work wherever you are going. No low skilled place is going to hire an out of area candidate when there are local applicants. You will have to show up from say, expensive south central LA to 'cheaper' boise, having spent hundreds of dollars in gas along the way, and now need to put money down on a security deposit. Since your credit is probably bad since you are broke, you will probably have to pay a huge deposit. My very first apartment when I had no credit asked for three months of rent as a deposit. If you are broke you don't have money for gas or these deposits, and will have had to go into debt. So now you are in a new area where you no absolutely no one, with no job, thousands in debt. You might spend the rest of your working life trying to get out of the hole you just dug for yourself, and that's assuming you don't get sick along the way.
It's no wonder why so many people are homeless, and why most of the working poor in cities like LA live in overcrowded apartments rather than "going elsewhere" like wisecrack comments on the internet seem to suggest they do. I don't think people on this board have any concept of how expensive it is to be poor in this country, and this comment is case in point.
I can understand why a pizza chain or other business that delivers food would want this info. How often has it been that you've ordered a pizza, or Chinese, or tacos, and found yourself wondering, "Where the hell is my food? I'm hungry _now_." With the tracking of delivery persons, you can pull your magic rectangle out of your pocket and see that, oh -- the driver is stuck at that one intersection where the thrice-damned stoplight takes at least 10 minutes to cycle -- the same light constantly camped by traffic cops who issue tickets to everyone who does an illegal turn leave the intersection for an alternate route.
However, not everyone has the means to do what my friend did -- buy a second phone. And people are right to worry about how their off-the-clock location data will be abused and fall into malicious hands.
I suspect we're going to see more and more employers pushing towards mandating location tracking, even ones with less legit business needs than food delivery. I can only hope we'll see pushback against that.
You also don't even need to allow location at all if you don't want but then adding your pickup location and destination become very difficult (probably designed to be that way).
I just told them I didn't have a compatible device - it's not so far fetched that people don't have an android or iphone.
In the end they provided a clumsy web based workaround to do the same thing.
Outside of tech, I can imagine many people, like the one in this story, are at a disadvantage because they don't know they can plausibly say they don't have a compatible phone, they don't know how to navigate a complicated workaround, and they may be afraid of losing their job.
Yes, power differentials matter a lot. I have quit a job over things I considered overly intrusive, but a lot of people don't have that freedom.
For that matter, I now keep a separate work phone. My employer doesn't require anything I object to, but just keeping all work apps off my phone was one consideration when I got it. But that's a big expense for a lot of people.
Mind you, I don't care if a company decides to spy on his workers using tools like Hubstaff, but they should be upfront about it during recruiting so both me and the company don't waste our time.
Okay that's a little harsh. It's more like drilling into someone's skull: it might work, but probably not the reasons you think ("to excise the evil spirits!") and there are almost certainly less harmful, more effective techniques you just don't know about yet.
When we can reliably break Goodhart's Law (metrics that are targets aren't good metrics) maybe we'll outgrow our primitive hiring and performance rituals.
Speaking of, since the metric is now "moves around the building," do security guards and custodians ever carry the other's trackers for a while?
Perhaps there are "custodial red teams" with orders to dirty or disable something and see how long it takes to be restored.
Yes, that's normally how this works. And that's how this works at the low end.
But when you're the custodial/landscaping/whatever body shop for a school/highfalutin office park/etc. your value ad is in the image. These types of body shops do all sorts of stupid things to basically broadcast the image that they hire the good poors and not the dirty poors. E.g. they'll hand out uniforms with collars, only hire people who speak English and are free of tattoos, etc. etc.
This tracking app BS is just a way for them to add "look, we're accountable, you can track your contractors with an app" to their website so that some Karen with the company card is more likely to call them up and buy their services.
It's not about getting the job done more efficiently. It's about projecting an image to the customer.
He wouldn't have lost his job but he wouldn't be able to gain production access, which required two-factor codes.
He grudgingly installed a two-factor app. I'm sympathetic to the idea of "don't make me install stuff on my phone", but when it can be one of several apps, and the sole purpose of the app is retain a cryptographic key and run some hashes on it... I lose most of my sympathy.
I suppose it'd be nice if that employer (I no longer work there) provided a device to generate the two factor codes, but I can understand why they don't.
I can't see how having a choice of apps changes anything.
An employer shouldn't be able to demand an employee to use personal property for work purposes against the employee's will. That's unreasonable, unacceptable and ethically wrong in my opinion.
I mean... aren't there quite literally devices whose sole purpose is to generate 2FA codes? Something with a form factor similar to a small keyfob?
I do know these exist but I've personally never seen one "in the flesh".
Also I can only imagine these (as a singular solution for all relevant employees) would probably also be easier to administer than a wild growth of different 2FA apps, most likely on different OSs and even different versions of those OSs, while over the years the churn of employees means the variation gets ever larger.
I've never had a job that required "Google Authenticator" on my personal phone. I guess I stopped working for other people long before that became the main 2fa method. That might be a step too far.
And why is that? I don't know of any good reason besides not wanting to spend a trivial amount of money.
I sometimes like to leave my phone at home when I go to work because I want to separate work from personal life. I would probably leave a job that required me to have my phone on me for work.
Almost everything supports the new ones. And if they don't, use Okta for SSO and Okta supports that.
For example, Okta Verify or Duo I would absolutely demand a separate phone for paid for by work - they are remotely monitorable/controllable more than local hashing.
But you should be generating TOTP codes for your personal accounts too!
Why risk it?
If I let my phone simply run out of battery...
Well, it is my phone. I can if I want to.
If I don't upgrade for 6 years and nothing accepted supports my version of OS...
As soon as you make my phone a part of your business, it is no longer my phone.
The explosion of smartphone technology has made chipping an infeasibly expensive solution in comparison; it hasn't dampened employer desire to do things like this.
What a load of horseshit. How does an implanted RFID tag provide anything but an employee badge that you can't lose?
In the Isabella Stewart Gardener heist documentary they looked at when the motion sensors where triggered in each part of the museum (this was in the 1990s) to get a sense of how long the thieves were in the building and where they went.
When I worked at a home power monitoring company (monitoring by circuit breaker), we could tell very clearly that no one was home at my bosses house when he was on vacation (his house was one of our test locations). It was a little wierd.
A higher up got was told by their spouse when he noted she was home early and she asked how he knew (he was monitoring the power usage). that he could keep his toys but don't talk to her about it. Someone wondered if they should talk to the dog walker about how the walk was really short on tuesday.. We switched to commercial monitoring thankfully.
We badly need to find a suitable level of tracking that is less than 100%, or the whole world is a tarted-up game reservation.
[Edited from Would Google and Facebook employees comply]
'However, Samfiru added, an employer can let an employee go "for pretty much any reason" as long as any severance that is owed is paid out.'
Over here, if an employer imposes unreasonable conditions on an employee, that employee refuses, and the employer fires them because of that, then that's unfair dismissal, and the employee can take the employer to an employment tribunal. The main problem at the tribunal would be proving that the refusal to accept the conditions was the reason for dismissal. When I read that "her refusal to download the app was mentioned in her letter of termination", over here the employee would have the employer over a barrel.
It even goes further here. If an employer imposes unreasonable conditions, and the employee resigns because of them, that's constructive dismissal, and the employee can take the employer to the tribunal just like if the employer fired the employee.
If it was the only way to feed my family and house them in a safe section of town, then probably yes.
If I was in a less desperate situation, then probably no.
If you connect your Android phone to your corporate Google account, you will be required to install the corp monitoring software suite, which (among other things) includes both location tracking and nuke-from-orbit features. The company does encourage you to configure your phone properly to keep your private info in a separate non-corp account to minimize undesired data leakage, since the corp side of things is assumed to be observable for security and corporate policy reasons (I can't remember right now if the nuke-from-orbit would wipe the private side of the phone's install also).
You can choose not to do this, though it will probably limit your career prospects in the long run (especially if you're SRE and need a convenient notification solution for when you're on-call). Although, honestly, if one doesn't trust Google's handling of private information, one should probably re-think one's employment relationship with them.
Anecdotally from my own observation, plenty of employees comply because they trust Google's handling of everyone's private info, including their own (and that's even given the understanding that Google's access to one's "private" info when one is working as an employee on corporate tasks can be more open... They won't snoop your personal Gmail account, but they absolutely reserve the right to investigate your corporate one, for example).
If a company wants me to be on-call or do any kind of mobile work, they can give me a phone. I let this slide at one job because it was a unicorn where I actually loved the job, but from then I've been able to get corporate phones and it's been key.
... but if you're SRE oncall, you'll probably have that phone on you (or at least within hearing distance) at all times when you're on shift. I'd assumed the relevant issue was having a tracking device on your person your employer can access, not whether the employer was footing the bill for the tracking device they encourage you to have on your person.
Again anecdotally: most employees I know just set it up on their personal device. It's more convenient than carrying two devices around when one knows one'll be carrying a smartphone anyway.
You don't have precious, irretrievable data on that device anyway, because it's a phone (as in, "There's nothing Google's gonna do to your phone that wouldn't happen to it if you dropped it in a toilet, probably don't keep the only copy of your baby's first words on something that fragile").
So, a separate device would save your from that part, at least.
My understanding is that on personally-owned Android devices, a work profile cannot specifically track location by itself. A force-installed app on the work profile could, but you can turn off location tracking on the work profile easily.
> The company does encourage you to configure your phone properly to keep your private info in a separate non-corp account to minimize undesired data leakage, since the corp side of things is assumed to be observable for security and corporate policy reasons (I can't remember right now if the nuke-from-orbit would wipe the private side of the phone's install also).
On personally-owned Android devices, a remote wipe only wipes the work profile. It doesn't touch the personal profile side.
Googler, opinions my own.
I didn't really have a problem with it, I feel that this sort of non-intrusive tracking is perfectly acceptable when you're on the clock.
I would do this if the company provided the hardware and I only had to use the device to do work things during work hours. (As other pointed out Google does in fact provide hardware to employees needing this capability.)
Mandating use on personal hardware is a different story.
This seems very unlikely considering that Google and Facebook are consistently among some of the best companies in the world to work for. There is a big difference between being an employee at those companies and being a user of their products.