Japan, "Big Brother" has been replaced by big
corporations. In the land of the rising sun, powerful
corporations like Toyota, Honda, Sony, and Nintendo command enormous
power and control over their employees. Companies in many cases
go so far as to provide arranged marriages for single workers and
housing for employees. The price of such personal attention,
however, is a level of scrutiny that most people here in the
find unsettling.Japanese phone giant KDDI has just given
employers a new means to scrutinize their employees, unveiling a new
smartphone platform that allows companies to monitor cell phones'
accelerometers and track
what their employees are doing. KDDI will
offer the phones, presumably to companies would make them mandatory
for workers. The phone firmware sends logs of accelerometer
data to a central database for processing. KDDI has identified
patterns for common activities like walking, climbing stairs, or even
cleaning. Even precise cleaning activities like scrubbing,
sweeping, or emptying waste baskets can be picked up.Combined
with GPS tracking, the platform could give employers an unprecedented
and largely automated way to cheaply and efficiently track workers
snoop on their performance.Describes Philip Sugai,
director of the mobile consumer lab at the International University
of Japan, "Technically, I think this is an incredibly important
innovation. For example, when applied to the issue of
telemedicine, or other situations in which remotely monitoring or
accessing an individual's personal movements is vital to that
service. But there will surely be negative consequences when
applied to employee tracking or salesforce optimization."While
medical applications seem quite promising, KDDI plans to primarily
try to sell the service as to managers, foremen and employment
agencies looking to snoop on workers. Hiroyuki Yokoyama, head
of web data research at KKDI's research labs in Tokyo describes,
"It's part of our research into a total ubiquitous technology
society, and activity recognition is an important part of that.
Because this technology will make central monitoring possible
with workers at several different locations, businesses especially
are very interested in using such technology to improve the
efficiency of their workers. We are now at a stage where we can
offer managers a chance to analyze more closely the behavior of
staff."He says the system does not violate
rights. He states, "Of course there are privacy issues
and any employers should really enter into an agreement with
employees before using such a system. But this is not about
curtailing employees' rights to privacy. We'd rather like to think
our creation more of a caring, mothering system rather than a Big
Brother approach to watching over citizens."Kazuo
Hizumi, a leading human rights lawyer in Japan is among those
unsettled by the technology, though, and doesn't think there's
anything "mothering" about it. He states, "This
is treating people like machines, like so many cattle to be monitored
and watched over. New technology should be used to improve our
lives not to spy on us. It beggars belief that a prominent
company such as KDDI could come up with such a surveillance system.
It's totally irresponsible. I'm afraid ordinary citizens don't
care about this lack of rights. Consequently because of technology
like this, Japan is heading for the Dark Ages."
quote: KDDI has identified patterns for common activities like walking, climbing stairs, or even cleaning.
quote: (Somebody better get that reference!)
quote: I do not feel that the region where someone is born has anything to do with their morality, intelligence, or potential.
quote: f the floors are clean, then they are doing their job. If the food's not getting delivered, they aren't...
quote: When you use this tech to monitor your property, sorry, I mean employees, then it makes it harder for you to argue against the government doing the same to you
quote: Yeah, except that information isn't reported back to an employer or Apple so your allusion is inaccurate.
quote: Companies in many cases go so far as to provide arranged marriages for single workers and housing for employees.