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Date: 1998-11-18

IT-Normalität: Paranoia am Arbeitsplatz

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q/depesche 98.11/3

IT-Normalität: Paranoia am Arbeitsplatz

Dem sogenannten Trickle-Down-Effekt entsprechend, folgt
die private Industrie dem unschönen Beispiele
des Staates nach & überwacht, hört ab & kontrolliert was es
zwischen Arbeitsplatz & Toilette zu überwachen,
kontrollieren & abzuhören gibt.

post/scrypt: Wundert es wen, dass die Paranoia zum
essentiellen Teil der Lebenswelt geworden ist?

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Robert O'Harrow Jr.
November 16, 1998
As it turns out, there may be a reason for your office angst:
More and more software companies have begun offering ever-
more sophisticated tools that can keep tabs on employees.
Julie Allen, senior product manager for Tech Assist Inc., said
her software, named Desktop Surveillance, might help a boss
prevent a lazy employee from cruising inappropriate sites on
the Web or a temp worker from deleting important files. Her
product, one of several like it on the market, costs $55.

She said a surprising array of companies, organizations and
individuals have bought the software since its release earlier
this year. Among them are the Federal Bureau of
Investigation, local prosecutors and mistrustful spouses, who
want to keep a close eye on their mates.
"It's sort of like a truth meter. It tells you exactly what's
happening," said Allen, adding that the software can be
configured to send the boss a message whenever an
employee on a company's internal network is doing
something that's against the rules.
Such monitoring is part of the growing use of technology to
track employees. Business executives across the land now
routinely read employee e-mail and listen in on telephone
One company sells computer systems that allow restaurants
and hospitals to track how often employees wash their hands.

All of this is legal. Indeed, many companies argue that
workplace privacy is an oxymoron. When someone is using a
company computer and getting paid to work, some folks
argue, they have no right to send private e-mail, steal trade
secrets or amuse themselves by cruising the Web.
Judith DeCew, a philosophy professor at Clark University,
said people can't expect to shield themselves at work in the
same way they do at home and in the rest of their lives.
"Employees have less of a privacy claim," DeCew said.

Robert Gellman, a privacy consultant in the District, agreed.
"You don't have the same status as at home," he said.

But both said the burgeoning practice of watching workers
could backfire, making employees feel less trusted and less
enthusiastic about their jobs. So even though the use of this
technology to monitor workers may be legal and effective, it
could hurt companies in the long run
Gellman suggests that companies should make sure they
spell out for employees how they use such software and the
information it gathers. But even then he's wary of the
practice, saying that it's part of a lamentable tendency for
people to monitor one another.

"This is all part of that," Gellman said. "At some point,
surveillance becomes counterproductive."

Full story

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