A new bill would limit employer spying

States are considering bills that would limit how employers can use tech to monitor their workers.

Remote work has driven an increase in employee-monitoring software, while other workplaces have long used such tech to track workers’ location and productivity.

Employees — no surprise — hate it.

And some legislators want to set a few ground rules

Bills in New York, Connecticut, and Delaware would require employers to tell employees when they’re using electronic monitoring, per CalMatters.

Going further, the Workplace Technology Accountability Act in California comes with additional requirements:

  • Employers must tell workers when, how, and why they’re being monitored, and how their data will be used
  • Workers can view and correct data
  • Employers can’t monitor workers off-duty, on personal devices, or in private areas (e.g., bathrooms, locker rooms, and cafeterias)
  • No tech that monitors facial recognition, gait, or emotions

Employers also wouldn’t be allowed to use algorithms to make decisions about who should be punished or fired, and must complete impact assessments on how monitoring affects employees.

Why this matters

Monitoring can be harmful to employees’ mental health and their physical bodies.

Amazon was recently fined $60k by Washington’s Department of Labor & Industries, which determined that the company’s quotas and productivity tracking tech were connected to employee injuries.

California Assemblymember Ash Kalra, who introduced the bill, also argues that low-income workers of color are most negatively affected by monitoring tech “designed to squeeze out every single ounce of productivity.”

And some tech exhibits racial biases. For example, studies found AI often reads Black faces as angrier than others, regardless of their actual expression.

BTW: Employees often resist intrusive monitoring — which is why mouse jigglers have been on the rise.

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