From prisons to factories to offices: the spread of workplace surveillance and monitoring tech

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Today, it’s Saudi women being tracked by their oppressive husbands. Tomorrow it’s workers in the warehouse, or the office, or keeping tabs on where you are in the building, how many words you type, how many reports you complete, where you surf on the Internet, how many sodas you drink all day, whether you speed excessively, how much time you spend sitting down watching Netflix.

Surveillance society is here. Every aspect of your life is being tracked, your home is listening to you, your smart TV, your Alexa or Nest or iBot is telling a company somewhere something about you whenever you’re in the room.

China, oh lovely China has implemented a technology where you are being tracked and recorded and your social credit score can affect your ability to use airplanes, trains, or soon any aspect of life the Chinese deem appropriate. Social control using social media engineering and negative gamification feedback loops.

Bothered by this? No? You should be. What this is becoming is a world where we are being optimized by our remote technology and the corporations who use it.

Not for our benefit, because we aren’t getting paid better for having it done. We are being tracked, monitored, followed and recorded so corporations can ensure YOU ARE BEING MILKED FOR EVERY ABSOLUTE DROP OF PRODUCTIVITY, with no margin for error, creativity, nuance or opportunity to rest or recuperate.

That paranoid feeling you have every time you walk into your workplace is real. Your computer is watching you. Your keystrokes, your browser time, tracking your emails, watching your face. Your phone is a data system and can be manipulated so that your calls are recorded. Your keycard tells them where you are at all times. Your office supplied smartphone phone may be equipped with a tracking app to keep tabs on you.

It’s for your own good they tell you. They tell you its so they can make your work experience better. So they can provide you with the tools you need to do your job better, make you more effective, more productive.

But ask yourself: When was the last time anything at your job felt LESS OPPRESSIVE than it did the day before?

The defense rests.


The bunker that I and my colleges call our workplace is impervious to placing surveillance. When this building was constructed during the 40’s, the lowest level that we work on was built as a bomb shelter, hence the 4 foot thick walls / ceilings, zero possibility of drilling for the wiring. My troll boss is on the top floor of the building, and we get 10 minute heads up when he comes creeping around…


Not just corporations and workplaces, either. Surveillance is quickly becoming deeply embedded and intertwined in infrastructure, something that should be the domain of the collective, but we the populace are more or less letting private, for-profit industry have it all.


From your description, I can’t help but picture this:



Good to see you 'round these parts, even briefly.


Ours is worse, but a long shot.

The day is not far off where a politician will be able to get a list of people who attended an event that they don’t approve of. I expect that both the left and right wing will move to extremes where personal freedom is not a priority in their agenda. Already anytime that you hear the religious right usethe word “freedom” they mean the exact opposite of freedom.


Great defense all around, except that I prefer the term surveillance capitalism:

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That day is already here. There are conversations around the collection and surveillance of journalists who attend the border and report on the arrival of immigrants. Those journalists are monitored, detained, harassed by the government on a regular basis. This is another “trial balloon” to see how much surveillance can be presented to the American people before they balk.

If it can enjoy a precedent here, people will accept it as a supposed safety measure which undermines their right to privacy and anything else which can be superseded with the right rhetoric.

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