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Do you want Big Brother watching you WFH?

Do you want Big Brother watching you WFH?

Posted on 17th June 2020

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Facial recognition

It’s a fact that some of my colleagues are fairly relaxed about the use of facial recognition technology, at least based on the survey we did of all the Be-IT team last year.  If they were living in China and being pulled up by the police for crossing the road in the ‘wrong’ place, identified by their fizzogs, they might be less sanguine.  They might also have second thoughts when they read that PwC has devised a new tool to track its traders via facial recognition. It must be said that they would not be the only ones, because most of the reporting on this subject that I’ve seen it not exactly in favour either.

PwC’s new kit will even tell your employer when you go for a bathroom break. This facial recognition software allows bosses to track the faces of City workers via their computer webcams.  More sinisterly, in my view, it also requires those being monitored to provide a written explanation for screen absences, apparently from only a few seconds up to 10 minutes or more. What next, cameras in the little boys’ room to make sure we’re not skiving or stealing loo roll?

At a time when there is a huge focus on the use of apps to track individuals so they can be tested for the coronavirus, there is an increasing awareness of the privacy issues around all this.  

Clearly, any tech/scheme that might hasten the end of the current crisis and reduce the threat to our lives and jobs is to be welcomed, yet Norway has just suspended the use of its tracking app due to privacy concerns and a strata of society in Germany too has major issues about their country’s app. Incidentally, the two links in the previous sentence come from the Guardian and the Telegraph, suggesting that these concerns are not rooted at one end of the political spectrum.  

This puts us in a dilemma as a society.  Do we simply accept what our employers and our governments tell us it is necessary to allow them access to our movements, our faces, how we behave at work, etc., even if it means giving up personal freedoms, or do we have a debate about where to draw the line? I’m for the debate.

Freddie Kydd, Be-IT

Posted in News, Opinion

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