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11/27/2010 / Francesca Lyn

Privacy and Surveillance

Do employers have the right to know what their employees do when they are not working? Why or why not?
Employers do not have the right to know what their employees do when they are not working. I knew I agreed to this but I did not want to come up with reasons based on things like how much an employee drinks or goes to nightclubs. The first thing I came up with is if you are searching for another job. Nobody would argue that searching for a different position in your own time was unethical. But your boss might not take it very well if he finds out you are meeting with a potential new employer on a social networking site. Another issue I thought about a lot is sexuality and gender identity. A workplace does not have a right to what happens in someone’s bedroom or to know that someone has had a sex change if they do not what to disclose it.

Can these cases with professional athletes (Sanderson, 2009) can be applied to (or compared with) other types of employees — such as lawyers, teachers, advertising sales reps, etc. Why or why not?
At first I thought that this case with the professional athletes was very different from any other types of employees. Athletes are constantly being interviewed, recorded, or photographed. Their actions are more closely looked at and seen as a part of the public domain. But now we have facebook. Much of our life, no matter how insignificant, is being recorded. An interesting article about this subject is “Israel Uses Facebook to Catch Female Draft Dodgers”. The only difference is that most of the potentially embarassing or even illegal things we post on facebook are not profitable for others.

Should people be concerned about the location tracking capabilities discussed by Abe (2009)? Do these technologies have negative aspects?
The location tracking capabiltiies are a serious concern for me. When FourSquare was first introduced I was really disturbed. A lot of friends were announcing their whereabouts using FourSquare posted to Twitter and it seemed like a perfect opportunity for a stalker. This guide tells you to avoid “checking in” at places where you are particularly at risk – home, your bank, work, your child’s school, and the doctor’s office are all mentioned. It also mentions that location tracking could be the perfect guide for burglars to come in and rob you without interruption.

Does Abe’s argument about hospitality make sense to you in the context of online surveillance? Why or why not?
I was a bit confused about the concept of hospitality that Abe used. The connection is tenuous at best. I do not know if you can strengthen your argument by applying a scenario in which even Derrida admits is pretty much impossible. This just might be me but it always raises a red flag in my mind when someone tries to connect an aporia of Derrida to a real life situation. I know Derrida is a very hot subject to talk about and I wonder if making the connection is more of a chance to show off some knowledge of philosophy rather than a thoughtful nuanced reading of Derrida connected to the concept of online surveillance.

I also found this story about a banker getting fired for boasting about her severance package.



Leave a Comment
  1. aflaten / Nov 29 2010 8:06 PM

    FourSquare… man, if there’s ever anything that’s perfect for a discussion about Internet privacy, it would be that.

    Yet, as with all new media, its usage is entirely voluntary. People like “checking in.” Businesses are encouraged to entice people to do so. There’s not really any surveillance going on, because the users are telling them everything they need to know. Why? Uh, you got me. I may have some ideas once this pesky thesis is done.

    I think you’re quite right to call out the risks for using something like FourSquare. However, unlike Abe’s arguments to the contrary, I find it hard to think that people who use FourSquare couldn’t be at least somewhat aware of them from the start. I mean, it’s all about announcing where you are at any given moment. It’s pretty blatant.

    Yet, people still use it anyway. To them, the benefits outweigh the risks. Which is what most new media usage is all about.

  2. ltn0913 / Nov 30 2010 8:18 PM

    I didn’t know FourSquare before I read your post, but it didn’t surprise me that much. I just watched an episode of Blue Bloods and it mentioned that “Twitter not only records the times of your tweets, but it tracks your location with a GPS.” I don’t know how many people are aware of this, but I can’t stop wondering that if people are informed this, would they stop using Twitter? I guess they probably wouldn’t.

  3. sadiecone10 / Dec 1 2010 1:01 PM

    I mentioned FourSquare and the “Places” application on Facebook in my post as well. Point blank, it CREEPS ME OUT. I have no desire to have someone know where I am at any given point in time. I think that a number of academic papers on Internet privacy could be done using FourSquare as an example. I think that people who “check in” should realize, though, that they are putting themselves at risk and that if something negative happens as a result of that posting or “checking in,” that is something they should have considered heavily when utilizing these tools.

  4. paulacunniffe / Dec 1 2010 2:58 PM

    It seems everyone is picking up on your comment about FourSquare. I found myself nodding my head when you mentioned it. It is seriously a stalker’s paradise. The fact they have to advise users not to check in when they’re at home says it all. If it’s not safe to let the world know when you’re at home it probably isn’t a good idea when you’re out to dinner either! I can’t even understand why people would want the world to know that. If I want to know where someone is I’ll call them! It’s like those who over-Tweet… it’s overshare and I’m not interested that you spent 2 minutes folding laundry.

  5. alonewithadream / Dec 1 2010 2:59 PM

    Wow! We all could talk about FourSquare. Isn’t it a bizarre twist of events to be inviting stalkers into your life like that when we are all so concerned about privacy?

    And E-Z Passes, too. How many episodes of Law & Order have been solved by Bridge and Tunnel people crossing over with an E-Z pass? Why not pay cash when you have a kidnap victim in the back of your cargo van?

    We need to be concious of when we use tracking technologies. It’s our responsibility.

  6. clocke22 / Dec 1 2010 8:49 PM

    I have never been able to “get” these location tracking devices. Back when the Boost mobile “where you at” commercials came out I remember thinking that I would never ever do that. Now there are so many more ways you can tell everybody your business. First of all, I never really go anywhere that interesting and if I did I would rather interact with people I am with then tell everyone else what I am doing. There are safety and privacy concerns as well as just the fact that maybe we could all stand to keep a little bit of an air of mystery about us…right?

  7. Carol / Dec 3 2010 1:15 AM

    Location tracking capabilities are also a serious concern for me; I will never want to make it a guide for the buglers to know when they can visit my apartment. Besides that, personally, I will also be very uncomfortable if my acquaintances know where I have been to or I am at (even though it will not make any harm to me); I guess maybe I am the kind of person who just doesn’t like to be too “transparency.” It makes me feel very insecure and uncomfortable.

  8. fanninchen / Dec 3 2010 10:22 AM

    I think you mentioned one good point of avoiding checking in banks, home, and children’s school. Though it is obvious if you checked in elsewhere means you are not at home. The FourSquare seems to be a open platform providing access to everybody to see each other. The privacy protection is obviously poor than facebook. Though the ideas of sharing is good, but what on earth do I want to know where does this stranger just checked in!!!???

  9. Xuerui / Dec 3 2010 11:10 AM

    Social networking sites bring a lot of fun to us as well as the privacy concerns. Now, the security is an issue about using Foursquare and Twitter. People crazy about these sites are using them all the time. They desperately want to share everything with their friends. It also increases the chance that their locations could be used by people with malicious intentions. I remember a case I saw in Criminal Minds episode. A murder collected information about a specific type of girls on Facebook, knowing about their daily lives because they share every detail online, and then stalked and killed them. I know the case may not be true but who knows.

  10. makeyourself270 / Dec 3 2010 1:52 PM

    Your response to the first question made me have an interesting thought. If people were able to keep their personal biases in check, would this make surveillance on employees any more okay? You brought up how people could potentially lose their jobs over gender identities if they were exposed. I don’t think this is right. But would it really be any better if employers did not terminate employment based on such factors and just monitored employees for things related to the job? I’m not saying yes. I just think it’s an interesting thought.

  11. Mindy McAdams / Dec 12 2010 10:12 AM

    I agree with you about the robbery issue. I think right now everyone allows all this location tracking and checking in because they feel safe — but how long will it be before thieves start using this information as a matter of course? I guess we are trusting that the kind of thief who would rob you or me is not so clever — and very wealthy people probably have pretty good security systems.

    I have to agree about the hospitality part — maybe Abe had a good point, but if he did, he failed to make it clear.


  1. Comments Week 12 « Paula Cunniffe
  2. Blog Post 12 (privacy and surveillance) « Digital Democracy
  3. Blog post 12 comments « Carol's Blog
  4. blog post 12 comments « Fannin's Place

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