Employers To Spy On Company Car Usage
Some companies give their employees a smart phone to allow them to maintain contact at all times. And then others will soon be handed over a device of an entirely different order that will allow employers to track their staffers' whereabouts.
As was first reported by the 4SquareMedia website Smarthouse, the Australian telecommunications firm Telstra has teamed with GPS service provider Navman Wireless to make available a tracking device to be placed in company automobiles. The service, which looks like many products that the drivers install in their car to find directions, costs $38.50 a month. Once hooked up in a vehicle, it can sync with an office network to provide directional information.
Referred to by the Australian News as a "spying" device, the tracker will also allow employers to see follow times, speed, and any unauthorized vehicle usage, according to the News.
The creators of the device saw it as a boon for companies maximizing their human capital.
"At the end of the day you're not tracking the employee but tracking an asset," the vice president of Navman Wireless Asia Pacific, Ian Daniel, told the News. "It allows companies to track efficiency through things such as billable hours on site, service delivery" and, he said, also monitors for infractions like speeding.
The Australian labor sector sounded a note of skepticism over the tracker.
"Unions oppose the use of such technologies where a major purpose is to spy on employees for disciplinary purposes, or intensify work," a spokesman from the Australian Council of Trade Unions told the News.
The devices, the first such automobile tracking system put out by telecommunications giant Telstra, are in keeping with the trend of employers increasing surveillance of their employees. Two years ago, a list of vulnerable workplace properties subject to spying was compiled by AOL Jobs. Of particular significance was the ease with which companies can read employees' email when working on an office computer. As Ed Orum noted, "Emails are sent and received through the company network, and that means a record of their contents is kept long after you hit the delete button. Companies can easily install programs that scan email messages for keywords they might be interested in monitoring."
Orum went on to note that there's really no safe way of reading or writing potentially damaging correspondence.
"Don't send or receive personal messages with your corporate email account. If you must read that LOL forward while on the job, get a smartphone with an email plan -- one that isn't company owned," he said.
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