MORE on Privacy...
I was reading the IDS last week and came across a really interesting article about some new monitoring software that Microsoft is in the midst of developing. The new software (unnamed as of right now) will allow employers to monitor employees’ body temperature, heart and respiration rates, brain signals, blood pressure, and facial expressions. WOW. Microsoft explains that they are developing this software in order to alert managers if an employee seems to be depressed, over-worked, or stressed. Well, okay… but I’m sure that there are plenty of individuals in the corporate world that are depressed, over-worked, or stress. Does this mean that they can’t do well at their job, that they’re not going to function at maximum capacity?
Maybe, but not necessarily. How about the fact that just over a quarter of all Americans over the age of 18 suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year?* This is a lot more prevalent than a lot of people might think, and thus to have an employer be able to monitor some of your most personal information and find out if you’re suffering from depression may not be in anyone’s best interest.
One opponent of the monitoring software stated: “I can see how some employers might want to know their employees’ stress levels or something like that, but a good company would already have policies in place (to deal with those issues).” I just can’t imagine a workplace in which all of my biometric data was measured and monitored. Often times, if I’m having a bad day, I’d rather keep it to myself. I understand the idea that managers want to be alerted if their employees are over-worked or stressed, but I feel that these issues are something that each employee should take care of him/herself. If there is a problem, it should be up to the employee’s discretion to decide whether or not he/she wants to make an issue of it. Each company needs a structure where the employee is going to come and talk to you directly.
The article stated that this technology won’t appear in the workplace anytime soon, and IU law professor Fred Cate explained that the critical issue is how the software is going to be used. He makes a good argument: “It’s clear that it could have enormous potential for invading privacy, but so does lots of other technology that we use.”
So, any thoughts?