Technology and Privacy Issues

In the age of digital disruption and innovation, we’ve experienced technological integration in a majority of our everyday activities and interactions. While this progress has made our lives easier and more efficient it many ways, it also comes with several risks-especially issues concerning privacy and monitoring.

From having our browsing and purchasing patterns tracked with tools like Cookies to seeing our network’s location on social media, we’ve all experienced this potentially invasive breach of privacy. These monitoring mechanisms extend far beyond online shopping and social media. In fact, new technologies have made it significantly easier for employers to monitor their employees more closely at work. Employers have to right to utilize email, telephone, social media, and location monitoring on their employees while they are at work and sometimes even outside of work as well depending on the scope of employment. 

On October 12, 2017, Meijer was faced with a class action law suit over its use of employee fingerprints for tracking hours worked. Employees were required to scan their fingerprints each time they clocked in and out of work. The main premise of this law suit was that it violated the Illinois 2008 Biometric Information Privacy Act, which requires businesses, including employers which maintain fingerprint databases, to adopt policies regarding collection and use of this information. Michigan does not have this law to protect employees, but has considered adopting it since this case.  All in all, technology has blurred the fine line between privacy and public especially in the workplace environment. 

Questions to think about:

Do you think it’s fair for employers to monitor their employees so closely at work?

Where do you feel the line should be drawn for employee privacy? 

Do you feel that the current policies and protections are sufficient in protecting employees’ privacy?

What challenges do you feel the government faces when creating policy to manage the breach of technology?

How can policy keep up with the rapid changes in technology and its capabilities?