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Japanese phonemaker KDDI has figured out how to use accelerometers to track what employees are doing. Big corporations may soon be watching you in the future.  (Source: Funponsel)
New system will allow your boss to spy on what you're doing at all times, measure how busy you are at work

In Japan, "Big Brother" has been replaced by big corporations.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 U.S. would 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 and digitally 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 workers' privacy 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."



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What' next
By Yames on 3/11/2010 4:40:57 PM , Rating: 2
Employer can turn on the camera and mic? What a load, I hope the employees stand up for themselves.




"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone














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