Free «The Naked Employee. How Technology Is Compromising Workplace Privacy» Essay

The Naked Employee. How Technology Is Compromising Workplace Privacy

The book “The Naked Employee. How Technology Is Compromising Workplace Privacy” by Frederick S. Lane was written for a wide audience of a working age. For whose who have already faced the problems of job searching, resume writing, starting a new career and employment in general. The book could be useful and interesting to read for both potential employees and employers. The issue of protection personal information has become particularly important in the age of globalization and multicultural integration when everyone monitors everyone.

Frederick S. Lane, a lawyer and the author from the U.S., previously studied at AmherstCollege and BostonCollegeLaw School. His interests include jurisprudence, civil law, computer industry, adult web industry, and studying of modern internet trends.

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The author accomplishing each step of working process is being legally spied by employers in different ways. Every site you visiting could be tracked. E-mail is not your private territory as well; your personal materials from it may become available anytime. Video cameras everywhere and background checks make our life open for anyone who is interested in it and paying wages. According to the author, any information you delete is not really deleted. It had been made by a casual computer forensics. Statistically, the vast majority of employers in the U.S. periodically browse their employees’ personal accounts and e-mails. Without taking the necessary laws, federal legislation and government guaranties for private life protection, every part of our existence soon will become undergone by external expansion.

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Big companies usually monitor their workers by using surveillance and computer IT technologies ranging from casual videotaping and personal network accounts, phone calls to medical tests and systems that keep tables on employees` locations. Often even a telephone is used to intercept information flows. The author says:

To listen in your neighbor’s phone call, all you had to do was pick up your receiver. This was often regarded as a “feature” rather than a drawback; long before the phone companies introduced three-way and conference-calling technology, party lines enabled a number of neighbors to share the local gossip (p. 106).

The main author’s theses are:

- Your private life is not actually private. Many organizations and people can get access to any part of your personal information anytime;

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-  Our working area is permeated by various technical devices capable of getting any information they need about you; any materials you have on your computer can easily be watched by your employers, for example, your social network accounts, video surveillance, e-mail, GPS tracking of company cars web-surfing, phone calls, card ID, the use of infrared badges, etc. 

- Our biological and medical information is also used by a company you work for - “Tracking employees by Cell”as Lane called it.

- Everyone tracks everyone. In coming years, our personal area will disappear as a phenomenon if the government does not intervene.    

Analysis and Reaction

The Naked Employee reveals the number of technological devices that are shrinking employees’ personal space, gives us an explanation of relevant legislation, and analyzes moral and social aspects of employee monitoring. Lane argues that some employers go too far into regarding applicants’ and employees’ personal information. He reviews technologies which are available, gives examples of employer surveillance and ends with a proposition for legal limits to what employer can dig up.

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People have their reasons for workplace surveillance, Lane notes. Some want to reduce theft: employees stole an estimated 15 billion dollars in inventory from the U.S. films in 2001. Others monitor phone and computer use to maintain productivity. To reduce changes of litigation, employers comb e-mail for sexist jokes and watch web-surfing for sex sites. Attempting to prevent workplace violence, they increase background checks and use more psychological testing.

The author outlines ways employers can monitor employees and the potential impacts of monitoring. “As a “right,” privacy suffers from two main flaws, first, it is very difficult to protect because the definition of “privacy” shifts so dramatically from generation to generation and even from person to person. A century or so ago, in this country, a glimpse of a woman well-turned ankle was considered erotic, since clothing styles and social propriety put even that innocuous body part within the zone of privacy. Today, that woman’s great-granddaughters are shopping for specially designed panties, so that they can wear low-rise jeans without letting their underwear show. By contrast, we have far less trouble defining “life” and “liberty”. If you ask random people whether they are alive or free, most will be able to give you a correct answer” (p. 4-5).

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Pre-employment background checks. Employers are interested not only in checking candidates’ qualifications but also in checking whether they expose the company to additional costs and liability. Employers ask HR departments and private investigators to go after increasingly personal information on prospective employees.

Selected topic of the book is more that up to date, because every year, computer technologies more and more enter into the rhythm of our modern life. To get a job, employers require you to be signed on Facebook; to pay a bill, you must have a credit card and so on. It all involves you in complex network of social relationships without any visible pressure. So, without any noticing, we become the objects of a great game in soldiers of government and  big corporations. The author connects his observations with the logical conclusions, facts, and personal research of computer forecasting.

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In my opinion, reading the book is enough to make any thinking man paranoid. You can feel yourself in the center of a bestseller book or a movie. No one can actually say that he is lonely in this world. Sometimes, it may lead to big social tragedies and violence at workplace such as shooting in a public place with a great number of victims. “The two incidents were merely the latest in a spring of high-profile workplace shootings. Overall, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) reported that in 2000, 674 workplace homicides occurred, and in 1999, violent (but nonfatal) assaults occurred 16,664 times. Put another way, during an average five-day workweek, nearly thirteen people are killed and roughly 320 are attacked at work” (p. 18). Lane claims that different incidents may have the same reasons and one global root cause - increasing social tensions caused by the global surveillance.

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The Naked Employee is an eye-opening book, with shocking information of our everyday casual life, concise explanations of necessary laws and IT technologies. It is surprising to know what parts of our everyday life may fall under the magnifying glass of big companies. Frederick Lane acquaints us with the facts we need to defend ourselves against the corporate gaze. Measuring the personal individual rights and the organizational needs, this book studies for the urgent privacy issues that every reader is facing.

It could be just an interesting book to read and to think about. Is there a place on the planet where we could hide from everyone’s eyes and just stay alone for a while? I guess not, especially in big cities with a number of artificially created living cells. Actually, it reminds an Orwell’s anti-utopian novel “1984” in a terribly modern way. 

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