Hubstaff, Tsheet, Time Doctor, Awareness Technologies, Tattleware – these are terms that might have been around for a time, but COVID-19 and the so-called pandemic has made these more immediately emerge to the surface of a world looking at a new norm.
“You had to live – did live, from habit that became instinct – in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.” – George Orwell, 1984
The world of Big Brother put everyone in a government box of control. Although Orwell could only put to paper what his health-degenerating brain could imagine, his seems almost prescient in its fictional projection. That governmental control box seems to have sprung to life with the Coronavirus and its many ramifications. That box is the computer.
We can understand the novelist’s prescience a bit by looking at several items in the news that show how controls that Orwell foresaw have emerged over the most intimate places of our existence – our homes. These have come about by asserting themselves within the most basic necessities of life –our health and our ability to earn income.
One young woman, a 25-year-old whose company closed its doors to workplace attendance, but allows work-at-home through computer, helps us look into what we will call computer gulag. While so-called whistle blowing has taken on, in my estimation, rather despicable implications, she, anonymously, presents exactly what America might face from this point forward. I am somewhat encouraged that one so young, 1) recognizes the kind of dangers to personal liberty this represents, and 2) is courageous enough to take the risk of expressing her fears, knowing how easy it is to be “outed” in today’s world of surveillance.
She reports that her employer has started using software called Time Doctor. It downloads videos of employees’ screens while they work. It also can enable a computer’s webcam to take a picture of the employee every 10 minutes.
She says, “If you’re idle for a few minutes, if you go to the bathroom or whatever, a pop-up will come up and it’ll say, ‘You have 60 seconds to start working again or we’re going to pause your time.'”
That meant that being away from her computer for more than a minute or two could cause them to cut her pay. Critics call this kind of tracking software “tattleware.”
The head of the Connecticut-based company, Awareness Technologies, Brad Miller, is irritated by that description. Miller said that since the COVID-19 outbreak, Awareness Technologies’ business has tripled. Its programs for managers keep a record of every task employees are doing on their computers.
Each worker then gets assigned a productivity score. Every employee is ranked accordingly.
Miller said, “If you’re not working or doing something wrong, then I guess it will tattle on you, but I don’t think that’s really how companies that are buying [the software] think of it as.”
The following further reports on the matter of stay-at-home computer controls.
Dave Nevogt, the CEO of Hubstaff, said demand has tripled for his company’s monitoring software, too.
“We have seen a massive increase in the number of people needing our platform,” Nevogt told NPR. “Remote work has gotten a huge boost as everyone has been forced to work outside of the office, and we feel like these changes may be here for good.”
For bosses, keeping up with worker productivity has always been a give-and-take. But in the office, it is much easier to figure out if someone is doing a job well. Now tracking technology is taking the place of a manager’s eyes. Miller said when the software runs on a homebound employee’s computer, it gives the worker an added incentive not to slack off.
“I think if people know it’s happening, then people will act better than they would otherwise, because we all act better when someone is watching,” Miller said. (Your Boss Is Watching You: Work-From-Home Boom Leads to More Surveillance, by Bobby Allyn, NPR, May 13, 2020)
The tracking technology is becoming increasingly invasive to home work places, according to the report.
“And then there’s a lower-tech version of that, which is people whose managers are asking them to stay on video all day long so they can watch over them every minute of the day, which is very intrusive,”[one affected employee said]…
It may feel intrusive, but it is not illegal, said Paul Stephens, director of policy and advocacy with Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a consumer advocacy nonprofit.
While the Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government, employers are not running afoul of any federal laws by tracking what their workers are doing all day through surveillance software, he said.
Stephens said state laws vary over whether companies must even tell workers whether they’re using tracking software. Some states do not require that workers be notified first…
And with few legal barriers, employers who turn to this software during the pandemic may choose to keep using it even after work-from-home orders are lifted, he said. (Ibid)
One unwanted outcome of the new norm, by city and state government officials – people deciding to make working at home through computers permanent – might be that companies will see the benefit of not having to pay, for example, Manhattan’s horrific rental prices. People in the home work environment, likewise, might opt to move to states other than New York or surrounding high real estate areas. This could, as I’ve heard conjectured, cause a desperate tax situation in places like New York City and state, which can only exist with confiscatory tax demands. The entire Manhattan real estate economy, for instance, could totally collapse from computer gulag.
And, we look at an even more immediate intrusion into American liberty. The following excerpted news story further explains.
A House resolution from Illinois Democrat Rep. Bobby Rush that would put Big Government in charge of tracking citizens’ movements as they relate to COVID-19 mitigation efforts — even sending health bureaucrats to “individuals’ residences,” “as necessary,” as the legislation states — has a most apt number: 6666.
Mark of the beast. Mark of the beast for a beastly, monstrously unconstitutional bill.
After all, what’s more devilishly un-American than launching one of the most massive government surveillance programs of private citizens in U.S. history, all under the guise of protecting people from the coronavirus?
That’s the “COVID-19 Testing, Reaching, and Contacting Everyone (TRACE) Act” in all its $100 billion grant giveaway glory. (H.R. 6666 a devil of a COVID-19 government surveillance plot, By Cheryl K. Chumley, The Washington Times, Tuesday, May 12, 2020)
H.R. 6666 will be used, according to its text, to trace people, send officials to our doors at home, forcibly test us, and, if found positive, we will be – what? Shackled to our computers?