The rapid development of technologies that enable pervasive and invasive monitoring of employees, both in the workplace and beyond, both during working hours and at other times, has prompted a trio of legal scholars to call for legislative protections for employee privacy. In an article slated for publication in the California Law Review, the authors contend that “with the advent of almost ubiquitous network records, browser history retention, phone apps, electronic sensors, wearable fitness trackers, thermal sensors, and facial recognition systems, there truly could be limitless worker surveillance.” The diminishing cost of these technologies and the lack of legal restraints, at least in the U.S., have fueled their rapid and ever-expanding deployment.
Citing the outrage that followed when workers at The Daily Telegraph in the UK discovered “OccupEye” sensors surreptitiously placed under their desks and the lawsuit engendered when an Intermex employee was fired for disabling the Xora GPS app that tracked her 24 hours a day, legal scholars Ifeoma Ajunwa, Kate Crawford, and Jason Schultz argue in "Limitless Worker Surveillance” that workplace monitoring has moved beyond a legitimate interest in productivity and efficiency into areas that violate personal rights and are actually counter-productive. To remedy this situation, they make the case for a federal Employee Privacy Protection Act that would limit workplace surveillance to actual workplaces and prohibit agreements that waived such privacy rights. The authors also call for a similar law to protect employee health data.