Taking a few days off this week. Back soon. For now, check out my appearance on “The Professor’s Record.”
In this interview of The Professor’s Record, I interview H.R. professional, entrepreneur, and author, Jim Stroud about why he decided to start informing the public about the dangers of critical race theory.
I talked about “Employee Surveillance” in the past because, like now, I see it as a growing privacy concern. In the never ending quest for workplace efficiency, companies monitor workers to the Nth degree in order to squeeze out as much work output as possible. On the surface, it may sound appealing. However to the worker, its not always an ideal situation.
Amazon has been on the cutting edge in its pursuit of workplace efficiency, to a fault. The latest iteration was reported on by VICE. Here is a quote:
Amazon delivery drivers nationwide have to sign a “biometric consent” form this week that grants the tech behemoth permission to use AI-powered cameras to access drivers’ location, movement, and biometric data.
If the company’s delivery drivers, who number around 75,000 in the United States, refuse to sign these forms, they lose their jobs. The form requires drivers to agree to facial recognition and other biometric data collection within the trucks they drive.
Further along in the article it reads:
“Amazon may… use certain Technology that processes Biometric Information, including on-board safety camera technology which collects your photograph for the purposes of confirming your identity and connecting you to your driver account,” the form reads. “Using your photograph, this Technology, may create Biometric Information, and collect, store, and use Biometric Information from such photographs.”
It adds that “this Technology tracks vehicle location and movement, including miles driven, speed, acceleration, braking, turns, and following distance …as a condition of delivery packages for Amazon, you consent to the use of Technology.”
Five senators are calling on Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to provide more information on the company’s recent deployment of “surveillance cameras” in vehicles used by contracted delivery drivers.
In a letter Wednesday, Sens. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut asked for more clarity on Amazon’s use of footage collected by the cameras and the scope of their use, with a deadline for Bezos to respond by March 24.
The letter was in response to reporting by CNBC in February, which revealed that Amazon recently began rolling out cameras from Netradyne in vehicles at a handful of contracted delivery partners across the U.S. The cameras, which Amazon said record drivers “100% of the time,” have four lenses that capture the road, the driver, and both sides of the vehicle. The cameras are equipped with software that’s capable of flagging a series of safety infractions, including failure to stop at a stop sign, speeding and distracted driving.
In a training video distributed to delivery firms, Amazon said the cameras will help improve safety across its delivery network, but drivers and privacy advocates raised concerns about the potential for heightened employee surveillance and a lack of privacy.
He started work in 2019 and saw Amazon’s policies change to include more active means of surveillance. First there was an app tracking his route. Then the company wanted pictures of him at the beginning of each shift on another app, he told the foundation.
But the breaking point came, he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, when Amazon announced it would be installing AI cameras in its fleet of vehicles.
Insider reported in February that Amazon was equipping all delivery vehicles with an AI camera system called Driveri, which is manufactured by a company called Netradyne. The cameras are always on and scan drivers’ body language and the speed of the vehicle, detect if a driver is wearing a seatbelt, and even measure drowsiness. The system then uses “automated verbal alerts” to tell drivers if a violation has been detected.
When Amazon announced the policy change and gave its drivers a deadline to agree to the surveillance protocols, Vic told Thomson Reuters Foundation that he decided to put in his notice.
“It was both a privacy violation, and a breach of trust,” he told the foundation. He also said the company requiring drivers to agree to constant surveillance to do their jobs seemed like “a sort of coercion.”
Amazon has faced scrutiny before because of its surveillance of customers as well as its workers. According to VICE, “at least 200 law enforcement agencies around the country have entered into partnerships with Amazon’s home surveillance company Ring.” For some, this constitutes a “surveillance empire” where Amazon and police can monitor homes via their RING system and quite possibly now via truck delivery cameras. Click here to read the security and privacy concerns surrounding this alliance. But, I digress.
Apple recently banned its manufacturing partners from collecting facial recognition scans and the fingerprint data of Apple employees who visit manufacturing facilities, according to a Wednesday report by The Information. Citing an internal Apple document it reviewed, the outlet also reports that the new privacy rule does not apply to the more than 1 million factory workers who make Apple’s products.
The internal document is reportedly part of Apple’s new security protocols aimed at reducing intellectual property theft, and also includes a mandated increase in surveillance camera use at manufacturing facilities, along with upgrades to component tracking systems that monitor Apple hardware during production. The document requires manufacturers to conduct criminal background checks on factory workers as well.
Among the key findings: While more than six in 10 C-level executives (62 percent) said that their organizations are using new technologies to collect data on their people and their work to gain more actionable insights — from the quality of work and the way people collaborate to their safety and well-being — fewer than one-third (30 percent) are very confident that they are using the data responsibly.
In addition, more than half (52 percent) of workers think that the use of new sources of workforce data risks damaging trust, and 64 percent said that recent scandals over the misuse of data makes them concerned that their employee data might be at risk too. The good news is that 92 percent of workers are open to the collection of data on them and their work, but only if it improves their performance or well-being or provides other personal benefits. More than six in 10 workers (62 percent) would exchange their work-related data for more-customized compensation, rewards and benefits, and 61 percent would do so for more customized learning and development opportunities.
I think companies will always push the envelope on employee surveillance because who doesn’t want a well run company? I think what gets companies, especially big tech companies, in hot water is when they start treating their workers like machine parts instead of people. So, in this regard, I offer Amazon (and other big tech companies) some free advice that they will likely ignore.
Whatever your next efficiency technology is, do not force your employees to comply to it. Offer them clearly defined benefits for opting in and the more pervasive the initiative, the higher the reward.
Clearly spell out what information you are collecting, how it will be be used and who will have access to it.
Every employee should have access to any information collected on them. Workers should have the right to dispute what has been collected, in the event of a discrepancy.
Put a time limit on how long the data can be stored and update the employee once its done.
Do not rely solely on a machine when making choices about your workers. Take it into consideration, of course, but no machine is perfect and should never supersede human wisdom.
To all big tech employees I wish you well. Protect your privacy. Who knows how far your data will go?
Thanks for reading my daily rant. Much appreciated. Are you following my blog? If not, why not? Do it now. (Please and thank you.)
I am rebooting “The Jim Stroud Show,” my YouTube series from back in the day. Previously, my focus was on HR related issues. It later expanded to emerging technology and culture. My last video was a year old. (Time flies.) In my returning episode, I tackle the supposition that Voter ID laws are racist and the hoopla surrounding GA House Bill 531 which Democrats see as an attack on our democracy while Republicans view it as a common sense effort to fight voter fraud. Where are you on the issue? I share my thoughts.
SENATE TESTIMONY:One last thing, have you ever wondered why there has been so much mainstream media attention on vaccines but virtually nothing on preventative treatment options? Click here to watch a very compelling video of Richard Urso, MD as he testifies before the Texas Senate HHS Committee.
I suspect that this video will be censored by YouTube one day so. watch it while you can. Such is also the reason why my new videos will be shared via YouTube alternatives. Click here to follow my blog so you don’t miss out. More news tomorrow.
Science fiction is now science fact as exoskeletons become common in the workplace. Plus, automated cashierless convenience stores are picking up steam which causes Jim to react with a profound prediction. Finally, don’t upset the Canadians as Jim finds out the hard way. Tune in for a very interesting episode of “The Jim Stroud Show.”
Subscribe to my blog now so you don’t miss out on future episodes. And be sure to reach out to me if you know of opportunities that might interest me. Thank you in advance.
In this episode of “The Jim Stroud Show,” I discuss the proliferation of fake LinkedIn profiles, the purpose behind them and how to detect them. Download the show notes here and get links cited in this episode and more.