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Germany To Grant Privacy At the Workplace

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the snooping-on-your-lunch-break dept.

Government 450

An anonymous reader writes "The German government is proposing a bill declaring that employees have an expectation of privacy at the workplace (translated article). Among other provisions, the bill would ban employers from surveilling their employees by cameras or logging and reading their emails. Also, potential employers would not be allowed to view an applicant's profile at Facebook or any other social network that hasn't actually been made for this purpose."

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Response (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33337394)

Good thing for German workers.

Re:Response (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33337516)

Yea this is amazing, and from Germany no less!! Wow!

I don't get wtf everyone is so butthurt about, this is a good thing. Jealous maybe? This comment is certainly NOT offtopic...

Re:Response (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33337544)

Good thing for German workers.

The mods are on crack again. A comment directly pertaining to the story is Offtopci these days.

Fuck the mods. This is the bullshit that makes me want to give up on seriously discussing and post some nigger jokes instead for some cheap laughs at the expense of the tenderhearted. I don't trust these swine that we have for mods to appreciate a pearl and neither should you.

MOD PARENT UP (-1, Offtopic)

anwaya (574190) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337816)

Good thing for German workers.

There's no reason for that comment to be moderated off-topic to -1.

Their equipment, their choice. (5, Insightful)

SudoGhost (1779150) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337398)

That would be like me saying I can't put a GPS on my car to keep tabs on where it goes when my son drives it. If you're on facebook at work when you should be working, I think the employer has a right to know about it. Also, no cameras? So they can't utilize technology, but they're still allowed to stand behind you and watch you work, right? The only difference between the two is the technology behind the first one.

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (3, Funny)

Nossie (753694) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337426)

I agree with you entirely!

I know, lets put a tracker on your car and watch when you go over the speed limit by a fraction or decide to be in a hurry during slippery conditions. Don't worry, we wont bother you with actually being there to see it, we'll just take the money out of your bank account automagically and update your driving status accordingly. The old way, the police just have to sit behind you and watch you drive or have a speed camera aimed right at you. right? The only difference between the two is the technology behind the first one.

Rodger :)

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (2, Insightful)

SudoGhost (1779150) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337448)

Apparently you've never seen red-light cameras.

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (2, Insightful)

munky99999 (781012) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337958)

That's what he was alluding to. He's trying to draw comparison to saying that your employer reading your personal info is just as wrong and bad as the red-light cameras. Employees being paid to surf the net is wrong sure.. but some jobs you just dont have anything to do sometimes. Therefore you surf the net. http://xkcd.com/303/ [xkcd.com]

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (5, Insightful)

SudoGhost (1779150) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337468)

Read the title of the post you replied to. It's THEIR computers. The equipment belongs to them. Me monitoring my computer is completely different than me monitoring your computer. Therefore...I don't see what you're getting at with you're sarcasm.

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33337504)

I do'nt c what your gettn'g at with you're gramer.

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (3, Insightful)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337550)

I don't really see what you're trying to get at? All the employer has to do is block access to FB urls, and then they don't have to monitor the employee's FB activities at all.

Spying is simply not needed to keep employees focused on the job.

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33337716)

Yes, because we all know that there is no such thing as a proxy

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (3, Funny)

vigmeister (1112659) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337800)

Looks like we all know that there's no such thing as a whitelist either...

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (1)

halowolf (692775) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337966)

Well my uncle didn't when his grandson clicked on a banner of made for kids that directed said grandson to a porn site. But I told him how to setup a whitelist for his grandson's internet surfing to make the internet a bit more friendlier with a bit less porn.

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33337672)

Yes, I agree. But if we are going to be nitpicking then a company is not really a person and can not expect to have the same rights as a person so GGP's argument is working just as well as employees on facebook.

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33337932)

I don't see what you're getting at with you're sarcasm.

You don't see what I am getting at with I am sarcasm?

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (4, Interesting)

Kireas (1784888) | more than 4 years ago | (#33338032)

I'm at work right now, using a mobile broadband connection I own, on a computer that I own.
So no equipment or infrastructure that belongs to the company is in use. You say they should be able to monitor my computer via cameras, or software on the off-chance I need to use the company network for files?

Interesting. Personally, I'm neither for nor against such measures - I use SSH as a matter of course when I'm not at home, and don't use work computers if I can avoid it (and kill the VNC process if I have to use one). I've got nothing to hide, except possibly my personal e-mails to family, but I'm happier knowing there's no-one watching over my every move.

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (5, Interesting)

morcego (260031) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337498)

You see, I think this is a really poor example.

Traffic LAW states you cannot go over the limit. I really don't like the argument that "it is only illegal if they catch you at it". You don't like that law ? You have several options. You can not drive. You can try getting elected and get the law changed. You can lobby for a change, without even running for office. Just ignoring the law sets a very bad precedent, and actually invites more abusive laws (if you consider that law abusive).

Now, back to the topic in question. So I own a company. I pay for the computer. I pay for the internet connection, electricity, desk, and even for the time you are there, supposed to be working. And I can't check on you ? Does that strike anyone else as utterly ridiculous ? Ok, I will accept (not agree) having to inform the employees the company will be monitoring. But not being able to check if the person is doing the work they get payed to do, is just stupid.

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33337570)

In Germany "LAW states you cannot go over the limit." in this case limit being you can't spy on employees. You will still know who is doing their jobs because they will get shit done while the others post stupid messages on slashdot. You most likely can still forbid them from using facebook, you just can't spy on them.

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33337586)

how would you know though

getting shit done? well gee boss I was on the phone all day, and there isnt a fucking thing you can do to dispute that, now hand me my check

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (3, Informative)

andreicio (1209692) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337810)

That's the thing, this is about Germany. Of course there will be those that take advantage, but generally speaking the employed population is much more serious and correct about their jobs than in other countries.

Also: the job of the boss is to know what each of his subordonates had to to that day/week and check if it's done. If an employee can trick the boss with stuff like "i was on the phone", than there's a bigger problem with the boss than the subordonate.

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33337590)

Trust is one of the things you cannot enforce by spying on your employees. And trust is something you need if you want your company to be successful and/or your employees being happy. There are a million better ways to check if they get their work done.

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (2, Insightful)

vigmeister (1112659) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337828)

Not spying on your employees is a good practice. Should good management practices be mandated?

My take on it is that the law (common or otherwise) should grant employees an expectation of privacy even when they are at work. Companies that do want to monitor what is being done on their equipment during hours they are paying the employee should be allowed to do so. As long as they make sure they dispel this expectation.

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (4, Informative)

Nossie (753694) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337594)

I work for the worlds largest mobile telecom (that was a hint at its name not me suggesting grandeur) and due to laws in the UK I can not have a cellphone on the floor, by company policy I would be fired for using facebook, ebay, {insert any personal site here}. Once I used hotmail to assist a customer with their on-line account and a day later IT were round asking me what I was doing. All paper used during the day is shredded, bags aren't allowed on the desks etc etc The company can and does monitor me remotely, most of which is for customer satisfaction (when the call is recorded so is our desktop) They can tell when a call is released, how long you've been in aftercall/outboud/teabreak/comfort break etc for to the milisecond and if they are suspicious they can run traces on your turret to catch something you might be up to.

I have not been fired for reading http://www.theregister.co.uk/ [theregister.co.uk] during my shifts... Although I vaguely remember it being sanctioned once on the intranet 'useful external resources list' (for it suddenly to disappear) If they ask me then I'm using it as research. Our e-mail is monitored and yet we still send round the odd joke etc...

Personally I don't really mind the surveillance... you are right, under company time we shouldn't be slacking. What I do not like is the acceptance we have no privacy. You are inherently taking away from me something workers 20 years ago were privileged of, although I agree you should passively monitor employees like the governent mostly monitors roads... I *HIGHLY* discourage the idea of actively tracking an employee like you might a criminal.

Do also remember I'm from the country where there is 1 camera per 14 people monitoring you already.

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (5, Insightful)

xnpu (963139) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337720)

How about we judge you on your performance instead? E.g. customer retention, sales, or whatever is suitable for your role. I wouldn't care if my top sales guy is on facebook all day, he would still be my top sales guy.

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (2, Insightful)

Nossie (753694) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337820)

To be truthful 95% of the monitoring done is seriously for training purposes.... the company spends a lot of time with an employee each month with both the TL and employee listening to a few calls and giving a pep talk as to what they thought went well and what did not..9/10 times the employee go away from the experience with a pat on the back tips to improve and the targets are discussed with how they feel they are progressing within the company.

If an employee gets a terrible customer satisfaction survey with no obvious reason (the customer was foreign and didn't understand the procedure as an example or just did not have the time right then) we have a full team of quality people calling them back to confirm. Those scores effect our bonus and if any are deemed unfair they are struck off.

Quality, adherence and average handling time is what our bonus / job expectation already gets weighted on. I'm sure though if they wanted rid of me they could go through all my calls / interactions and find x amount of faults that would be enough to get me out the door. The thing is - they don't actively look for problems My every keystroke is not logged... etc etc

I'm also one of the highest in the company for customer satisfaction (but my AHT is through the roof =D )

I may not have any expectation of having privacy - but I do have the expectation of being human.

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33337936)

To be really truthful 95% of statistics is bullshit. And the rest is just lies.

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337950)

Yah, but for the 1 guy whose performance increases 10x after using Facebook, 100 other employees performance will decrease 2x.

I am all for personal privacy, but I also agree with the idea that, for those 8 hours that you are being paid, you are expected to *spend* that time doing whatever you are paid for and not wasting your time.

Moreover, I understand why companies would want to closely monitor the email of their workers. Ultimately, while you are on your work hours you *represent* the company, and anything you communicate can be used against them.

Me? I do not take it personally. Although in my case rules are very very relaxed as I am in a German research institute (Max Planck, Leibniz, Fraunhofer, etc), but I do understand the background of such "draconian" requirements

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (3, Interesting)

xnpu (963139) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337974)

I don't disagree Facebook can make performance suffer. I'm just saying I'll fire the affected person for poor performance, not for using Facebook.

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (4, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#33338022)

Yah, but for the 1 guy whose performance increases 10x after using Facebook, 100 other employees performance will decrease 2x.

What you're saying is that you are employing people you have to babysit. If you pay peanuts you get monkeys. Trying to solve your problem by firing one monkey and replace with another monkey is just idiotic. Try hiring decent people and offering them training, personal development and advancement opportunities. They'll be motivated to do good work 90% of the time. Trying to push that to 92% by spying will only put you right back at no one decent wanting to work for you and again you're stuck with monkeys and babies..

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (1)

tukang (1209392) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337954)

Would you care if your top sales guy was performing worse than all the bottom sales guys at your competition? In other words, would you care if you had a company wide productivity problem?

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (1)

xnpu (963139) | more than 4 years ago | (#33338010)

Obviously. But I would be looking at my HR dept. and managers more than the sales guys. In reality though, I haven't seen this happen. The majority of the employees we hire understand that if they respect the companies needs, it respects theirs too. The occasional rotten apple is usually quickly identified and removed. I dare argue that the spying mentality gets the good guys down more than it gets the bad guys up.

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (2, Insightful)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337612)

But not being able to check if the person is doing the work they get payed to do, is just stupid.

Traditionally, this was done by people called "managers", who decided on things like "goals" the employee had to meet to be considered "productive".

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33337642)

But not being able to check if the person is doing the work they get payed to do, is just stupid.

If you can't check that someone is doing work you're paying them to do without surveilling their person, maybe the fact you're employing them at all is "just stupid"?

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (2, Insightful)

pentalive (449155) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337654)

Why don't you just let them do what they will during the 14-16 hours they sit in your chair. Instead of micromanaging their minutes give them set tasks and goals they they must complete. "Keep your PO list down to 3 at the end of the day", "Handle all your tickets withing a 5 hour time frame (or whatever the SLA says it should be)" or "Get the new server built, configured and online within 3 days"

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33337854)

How are you going to know what goals to set when you don't know how much work they can do?

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (1)

jaxtherat (1165473) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337890)

Because managers from beancounting backgrounds don't think in terms of milestones and projects, but in terms productivity and achieved hourly rates. ie *how you are doing it*, rather than *what you are doing*.

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (1)

xnpu (963139) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337708)

So why are you paying for the internet connection if you don't want them to use it? Just so you can spy on them like a little perv? There's no law stating you need to provide them internet. You can simply disconnect it or, if they need certain sites/mail to perform their job, allow those sites only. (This is all assuming you fail to set your trust issues aside. IMHO maintaining a good relationship with your staff gets you much more than any monitoring or blocking solution.)

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (1)

epine (68316) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337758)

Traffic LAW states you cannot go over the limit.

Good grief. I was recently complaining about the tendency of a certain type of voice to polarize issues without much regard for which pole they end up occupying. The primary agenda is to reduce the discussion to black/white and exclude the middle ground where intelligent discourse takes place (spamflood permitting).

There's an entire F'ing culture in western society concerning adherence to the speed limit. It's a band of speeds in proximity to the posted limit. The drivers know the customs and so do the police. The posted speed where I live is 50km/h. I drive the majority of the time in the 60-65km/h band. Haven't had a ticket in years. I'm smart enough to take my safety seriously. When traffic around me is slow, I don't make seven lane changes per mile to maintain my preference speed. And I don't drive a red Ferrari to draw attention to myself.

Strangely, it's also LAW not to engage in selective enforcement, though this seems not to apply with much force to the availability bias of spotting a red Ferrari demonstrating its nimbleness. The LAW contradicts itself. The LAW contains multitudes.

This is rather apt to this discussion as a whole. By no means will the available mechanisms of enforcement constitute much deterrent on the corporations willingly turning a blind eye.

Nevertheless, the surveillance state is not without its participants, who won't fail to note that they are employed in the service of flouters in a Dickensinian enterprise. There's plenty of profit in flouting, but there's also no rest for the wicked. Perhaps a few will weary of the social opprobrium, even if the fangs of enforcement are dull.

My only real surprise was to see this coming out of Germany first of all.

postscript to self (1)

epine (68316) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337840)

I slightly exaggerated the feebleness of a presumption of privacy.

In the relatively rare case where a corporation and an ex-employee end up in litigation, the advocate for the employee will now find it considerable easier to argue that copious employment surveillance records are inadmissible. In future, character assassination will be less thoroughly recorded in the annals of the German courts.

(With two 'ass'es in the previous sentence, it's no wonder my Firefox spell checker failed to suggest 'annals' in place of 'anals'. I once posted a bug report on some egregious defects in the Firefox spell checker speculating unkindly whether the verb list was scraped off the bottom of someone's shoe. The evidence mounts.)

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (1, Troll)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337784)

You don't like that law ? You have several options.

Yes, you do. However, you are aware that it's been openly acknowledge that speed limits are kept below their efficient level due to local governments wanting ticket revenue and the federal government threatening to take away highway funding, right?

Anyways - I prefer the option of driving at the speed that SHOULD be the speed limit (so significantly faster than what's posted, but well within the safe speed range) and if I get pulled over, I accept that I broke the law and don't complain. I don't know about where you live, but the norm where I am is that the majority of people do around 15-20 mph over the speed limit and, as long as you slow down to acknowledge there's a cop there, the police don't care as long as you're driving safely and not swerving all over.

As for this law? Europe is full of laws like this that get passed due to the unions where the law exists to protect lazy workers from being fired. I'm surprised it took them this long to get a law like this on file.

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (5, Insightful)

Tom (822) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337788)

I pay for the internet connection, electricity, desk, and even for the time you are there, supposed to be working. And I can't check on you ? Does that strike anyone else as utterly ridiculous ?

No, it doesn't. Your mental model isn't of employment, it's of slavery.

I read TFA in the original language, not the crappy translation. We are talking about things like cameras in the toilets here. Yes, you definitely can't check on me there.

And, quite frankly, it says a lot about the control freaks in management that they need to have it spelt out in a law that what I do in my private life after hours is something we used to call "private". Yes, even if I post it on Facebook for all to see. It is private in the sense that as long as my work is according to contract, it is none of your fucking business. I sold myself to you for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, if you want to have anything to do with the other 16 hours and the other 2 days, we need to renegotiate my contract including pay.

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (-1, Flamebait)

pgmrdlm (1642279) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337880)

Then your fired. Go find a job some place else. You don't want to work by my rules, then you wont. Get the fuck out. And by the way, there will be an officer to search all your belongings because I have had reports that you were the office theif.

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (4, Insightful)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337986)

I take it you're american and living in a "right to work" (or whatever they call it) state? Because in the rest of the civilized world there are laws to protect everyone, not just employers...

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33337850)

Traffic LAW states you cannot go over the limit.

Just nit-picking here: unless the law is at the very base of the relativity theory and the said limit is the speed of light, I don't quite understand the limit.
Probably you meant: "you must not go over the limit" because obviously you actually can.

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#33338038)

Just nit-picking here: unless the law is at the very base of the relativity theory and the said limit is the speed of light, I don't quite understand the limit.
Probably you meant: "you must not go over the limit" because obviously you actually can.

Well, in Germany there are roads where you cannot go over the limit. For the simple reason that there is none. :-)
Oh, and depending on your car, you may not be able to go over the limit even if there is one.

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33337918)

Now, back to the topic in question. So I own a company. I pay for the computer. I pay for the internet connection, electricity, desk, and even for the time you are there, supposed to be working.

Actually, your employees make you more money than you spend on those computers, internet access, electricity and salaries. If they didn't, then you wouldn't have much of a business, now would you?

And I can't check on you ? Does that strike anyone else as utterly ridiculous ?

Why don't you let all of your employees have complete access to your company's banking and payroll information so that they can make sure you have the funds to pay them with?

Ok, I will accept (not agree) having to inform the employees the company will be monitoring. But not being able to check if the person is doing the work they get payed to do, is just stupid.

If you treat your employees like shit, they'll all just use you as a stepping stone and then leave for better jobs. Not to worry, I doubt you'll be running any company any time soon if you can't even spell "paid". However, if you somehow do really operate a company, then you might want to consider getting that revolving door installed.

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337926)

But not being able to check if the person is doing the work they get payed to do, is just stupid.

While "employees doing the work they get paid" is a legitimate problem, spying on them is not necessarily the only solution. Alternate solution: checking that you get the work (results - including the time/scope/budget) that you paid for?

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (1)

tukang (1209392) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337960)

There's a fine line between checking on someone and spying on them just as there's a difference between logging how many hours a day an employee is on the phone and who's on the other line vs actually listening in on the calls.

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (2, Interesting)

jesseck (942036) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337428)

No cameras? That made me think- convenience store cameras are generally pointed at the cash register, where employees work. Same with banks. Since the employees have a right to privacy, does that mean c-store or bank robberies cannot be taped?

Reasonable Rights (2, Insightful)

andersh (229403) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337650)

Your literal intepretation is unreasonable and silly.

The whole point is to avoid unreasonable monitoring. If the primary purporse of a camera is to monitor employees actions it would illegal.

However a camera installed to monitor the work place for safety reasons (such as a bank) would be perfectly legal.

The purpose and coverage area would determine the legality, and remember the employer would not be the one to decide the legality (or if the supposed "purpose" is in fact in violation of the law).

Re:Reasonable Rights (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337964)

Your literal intepretation is unreasonable and silly.

Hey, don't forget it is Germany we are talking about here... where people take everything very literal (e.g., never say a German friend "we should come fishing to this lake" after walking past a lake because next week you may get them knocking at your door asking you to go fishing)

Re:Reasonable Rights (1)

moronoxyd (1000371) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337992)

Hey, don't forget it is Germany we are talking about here...

Yes, and that's why the purposed law explicitly states that cameras are allowd for security reasons et al.
(Not sure if the link above contains that bit of information, I used other sources.)

Employees'private lives, not employers'choice 24/7 (5, Informative)

D4C5CE (578304) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337604)

no cameras? So they can't utilize technology, but they're still allowed to stand behind you and watch you work, right?

No, after a series of scandals (that went far beyond keeping employees from stealing or surfing all day), just no cameras e.g. in change rooms or rest rooms, where they wouldn't be allowed to stand in front of you and watch you undress etc. "IRL" either.
Also, no covert widespread phone surveillance or reading of private correspondence (if allowed on company premises/equipment in the first place) under the "excuse" that they'd need to find "moles" (celebrated as whistleblowers entitled to special protection in other jurisdictions).
The Facebook prong is an entirely different thing altogether: HR (or private investigators on their part, probably even "pre-emptively") shouldn't be allowed to intrude social networking sites as "false friends" to harvest dirt on (would-be) employees (not that anyone in their right mind should let that pile up there anyway).

The level of detail is not necessarily the wisest way to make law, though: http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1762764&cid=33337514 [slashdot.org]

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33337738)

Should your landlord be allowed to put up surveillance equipment inside your apartment because they own the property? Should your ISP be allowed to monitor all of your internet traffic and read your email because it's on their equipment? Should the government be allowed to put tracking devices inside of your ID and money because it's their property?

Think about what they've done in places like London. Do you want the government to be allowed to put up cameras that record everything you do, everywhere you go because you are on city/county (government) property?

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (1)

kwbauer (1677400) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337980)

Landlord... No because I am paying him to use the apartment and the landlord does retain some right to occasionally have a look that I am not destroying his property. The landlord is not paying me to use his property and provide a service to him.

ISP... No because I am paying them to carry my traffic. They are not paying me to use their service and equipment.

Government... Money is not really the property of the government. It is something that governments produce and distribute to facilitate commerce.

Notice the reversal of responsibilities between the employer/employee relationship and your red herrings (or whatever logical fallacy you were using).

Since the summary was talking about what an employer was allowed (or not) to do, why is most of the discussion focusing on whether it is bad for the government to be doing it. Actually, I think governments should be watching government employees to make sure they are actually working. If they are not working but the work is getting done, then we can lay some of them off and save the taxpayers some money.

The government should not be monitoring everyone for everything... It should only monitor those who it is paying to do something to make sure they are doing what they are paid to do and not doing things they are not supposed to do.

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (1)

The Wild Norseman (1404891) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337770)

If you're on facebook at work when you should be working, I think the employer has a right to know about it.

You're right when it comes to FB at work.
TFS, however, states that the law would prevent potential employers from searching you out on FB before you're hired, to presumably prevent one from getting a job based on the inane stuff posted on FB.

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (1)

dadioflex (854298) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337832)

TBH I didn't think you could ever install cameras to watch your employees. In the UK the generally accepted wisdom was that all cameras were installed "for security" reasons and if they happened to catch someone slacking that was an "unintended consequence".

Not Their Choice (3, Interesting)

andersh (229403) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337868)

You might believe an employer should have those rights, however here in Europe we actually believe in protecting and putting our citizens above corporations.

This is not the first example of Europeans placing more emphasis on citizens' rights than the US.

It is fascinating how even the average American believes that corporations are entitled to treat their employees as [wage] slaves! It's as if you think employees sell their dignity when they take a job!

In my country overtime is frowned upon, if you don't leave at the end of the day people will wonder why you haven't finished your tasks in time. Staying after hours is just seen as inefficient. So while we work fewer hours than the average American we're still more productive and efficient according to the OECD.

I think you're all semi-brainwashed by decades of anti-communist, nationalist [capitalist] propaganda. I hope it wears off soon for your own sakes, the average American could use some decent jobs, rights and protections. Contrary to popular American beliefs the United States of America is not the best country in the world.

Re:Not Their Choice (4, Insightful)

kwbauer (1677400) | more than 4 years ago | (#33338026)

What about an employer that is not a corporation like a sole proprietor? Is that employer not also a private citizen and would have the right to watch what someone is doing with his property?

What if the employer is a family owned business? What if the employer is a small group of citizens? What, really, difference does it make how large or small the number of owners or number of employees?

If a society believes in and fosters the concept of private property then it must respect the rights of the owners of property to control that property.

So, in order to protect the rights of the employed citizens, we must trample on the rights of the employing citizens. It seems to be a fair trade to some. An unfair trade to others. And then there is the group that cannot even understand that the trade exists. That latter group needs to rethink their conceptions of the world.

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (5, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337882)

Your employee isn't your son. Children have severely curtailed rights under the supervision of their parents.

You are arguing that corporations are parents of workers who are children without rights.

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#33338006)

Maybe you should have RTFA. This is not about monitoring the user's use of facebook over employer's equipment. It's about collecting data about (potential) employees from social networking sites. It restricts use of them to data you actually have control over. That is, they e.g. cannot collect everything your facebook friends say about you. I wonder, however, how this is intended to be controlled. After all, the potential employer won't tell you "you're not getting this job because someone on facebook claimed you're drunken all the time." Another thing is that it restricts demands on job applicants to have a medical examination to cases where this is actually needed for the job (if you are going to sell food, it's even required by law, OTOH for a programmer general health issues are not relevant (any that are relevant will inevitably show up at the interview).

The at workplace stuff includes things like not putting cameras in toilets (actually I'm surprised at that, because I would have expected that already forbidden) and in other places where you are not actually expected to be working. And if you put up cameras in places where it is allowed, you must tell your employees about it.

Re:Their equipment, their choice. (4, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#33338044)

Only if an employer is a legal guardian. You bear considerably more responsibility for your son than an employer does for an employee, so you have considerably more right to watch over him. There is also a presumption (true for the vast majority of parents) that you genuinely have your son's best interests at heart, above even your own. This is never true of an employer for an employee (except in a family business of course).

Note that the toilets at work also belong to your employer and if you visit them while at work, you're on your employer's time. Does that make video to a voyeur site fair? I'll guess that you don't think so and thus acknowledge that there is at least SOME expectation of privacy at work and the only argument is over how much. Further that mere ownership of the hardware and being on the employer's time is not necessarily sufficient to negate the expectation of privacy.

There is actually a big difference between a manager standing behind you and a camera. You are able to watch the watcher (literally and figuratively) when the watching is done in person.

As for facebook, they're meaning at all. As in they can't t electronically follow you around after work to decide if they like how you live your life, they must make their decisions based on what you do at work.

woohoo! (2, Funny)

wces423 (686579) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337402)

all the pron will be SFW, now!

Re:woohoo! (1)

iajanus (1884370) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337512)

all the pron will be SFW, now!

Ah, to live in your utopia...

Um, yeah... (4, Interesting)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337404)

Also, potential employers would not be allowed to view an applicant's profile at Facebook or any other social network that hasn't actually been made for this purpose.

How would they go about enforcing this? Couldn't an employer argue that any content on a social networking profile that someone makes available to the public, was made for everyone to see? Failing that, how do you prove when an employer looks at a public profile?

LK

Re:Um, yeah... (2, Funny)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337410)

Failing that, how do you prove when an employer looks at a public profile?

Easy, just install a video camera to record what they visit.

Re:Um, yeah... (5, Informative)

SudoGhost (1779150) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337424)

The poster did a bad job of translating the article into his own words. The companies cannot use the social networking sites, such as Facebook, when making a decision about who to hire, and cannot fire people over content on those sites. But even that has conditions.

Re:Um, yeah... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33337442)

In other words, they are now let go with a "We don't need you [anymore]."

Re:Um, yeah... (2, Informative)

Seth Kriticos (1227934) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337802)

In other words, they are now let go with a "We don't need you [anymore]."

That's not how things work in Germany. There is an elaborate law framework that prevent that, so if the employer wants to get rid of you without reason, he'll have to wait at least 3 months. Otherwise he'll have to present a damn good reason to fire you (like severe work neglect, financial damage or some kind of criminal activity).

Obviously there are gray areas and some folks try things, but the legal support for the workforce (there is a special court for work related issues, and you don't have to ramp up huge court fees) is very strong here, so it's not that common. You have to pay for your lawyer though, but the fees are also regulated, so you don't have to come up with ridiculous fees.

Re:Um, yeah... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33337862)

German labour laws are more stringent than US ones. For example, they have a required minimum of 2 weeks notice of dismissal, ranging up to 7 months notice depending on how long you have worked there. None of this "at-will employment" BS that the US seems fond of.

Also, "enforced redundancy" firings have additional stipulations. If you fire someone for that reason, then hire someone new, you're looking at trouble.

Re:Um, yeah... (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337900)

In other words, they are now let go with a "We don't need you [anymore]."

This exists with or without the right (or not) to spy the employees.

Except if one invokes this, a normal workplace law would say: "If you don't need that person anymore, this is to be interpreted you don't need the position anymore. Thus you cannot hire anyone as a replacement" (if it is redundancy, then it must be treated as redundancy).

Re:Um, yeah... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33337520)

How would they go about enforcing this? Couldn't an employer argue that any content on a social networking profile that someone makes available to the public, was made for everyone to see?

No. Once the law was passed, they couldn't argue that, because the law specifically says that they are not allowed to consider the information on Facebook. (Well, I guess they could argue it, but it wouldn't do them much good :P) Just arguing "But it's public!" isn't enough when the law specifically says you can't use it.

Same way they keep teens from looking at porn (1)

judeancodersfront (1760122) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337592)

Warning: This profile is not to be looked at by lame employers!

Click yes if you are totally cool and not one of those lame employers.

Re:Um, yeah... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33337680)

Actually--lots of ways. My home server is dead at the moment unfortunately. Over 15 years ago, I put a web bug in an email I sent to my father at work to demonstrate to him that there's way better things than read receipts. Had a CGI script on a server that is long gone (shell account + UUID type thing per image). 1x1 pixel--white on white. You know the drill with HTML mail clients.

I was able to tell him when they read his email after they laid him off, and even what building they read it from from DNS records. They had the right of course... But when I could tell them that it was then forwarded to somewhere else...things get interesting.

I've never tried to do the same thing with facebook--but I'm pretty sure I could get an 'interesting' image in my profile that when clicked on would take people outside to a personal website... I'd get the referer tag from facebook, the DNS record and the RDNS. If they weren't using a proxy, and there was a law against it (if I lived in Deutschland)--you better believe I'd have a utility to scan personal logs for it and be prepared to file suit.

Looking at the profile...I probably couldn't prove. But the moment you click a link on it--you're mine.

Please, Login... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33337762)

You realize companies in the US now ask you to login to Facebook during the interview?

That would be illegal in Germany and for good reasons!

Re:Um, yeah... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33337946)

Basically it says that boss can't pull out the drunken party picture that your friend tagged and call it poor leadership qualities or some bs and get you fired.
but, if he sees it and decides that every-other-word you say is offensive and your three minutes late, you can be.

Can't Log Emails? (4, Insightful)

jesseck (942036) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337422)

This seems absurd... all my mail servers log employees' email every day. Even worse, my spam filters read the entire message to make sure it is acceptable- before allowing delivery to the employee. These privacy measures may sound great on paper, but not all will work. If IT cannot log emails, how do we troubleshoot email delivery problems? Of course, I may be taking this to the next level, completely ignoring the actual wording of the proposed law.

Re:Can't Log Emails? (4, Funny)

shawb (16347) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337494)

From the article:

Spy on emails and phone calls from: These rules include the conditions under which companies their employees such as telephone or e-mail traffic control should the telecoms. The access options are linked to this vast information and documentation requirements and vary by type of operation and the individual agreed use of technical equipment.

That should clarify it for you.

You misread (2, Informative)

aepervius (535155) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337794)

Firstly usually automated "logging" for the express purpose of administration and automated work of server is always allowed. The specific purpose of reading email log in attempting to read the content one is not the destination is not allowed, depending on the firm type & Betriebsvereinbarung (Firm agreement ?). That is way different than how you read it. And yes I read the german article and know a bit on the local laws. Whoever modded you insightful did neither.

Ich bin ein Berliner (1)

theodp (442580) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337446)

Per JFK [youtube.com] , we're all covered. :-)

IT Support (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33337488)

Techie: "How did your workstation get infected with so many viruses?"

User: "YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO ASK ME THAT!!"

Re:IT Support (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337872)

SPONTANEOUS EVOLUTION, MAN!

Which tells a tale of lenient construction+lack of (2, Insightful)

D4C5CE (578304) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337514)

...enforcement (by understaffed Data Protection authorities which -a bit like the firemen of Fahrenheit 451- now even have to help "the other side" identity citizens who try to exercise their rights with respect to SWIFT snooping [heise.de] ) if employers' intrusions of privacy (to that point that even surveillance cameras on the loo [spiegel.de] now need to be explicitly banned) in the jurisdiction that pretty much "invented" habeas data.

Trouble is, by regulating lots of nitty-gritty details instead of a broad "Constitutional right"-style protection, one makes it even harder for the law to keep up with progress - while exposing the loopholes most clearly to those determined to use them with impunity.

To quote Portalis, one of the masterminds behind the French Civil Code:

Quoi que l'on fasse, les lois positives ne sauraient jamais entièrement remplacer l'usage de la raison naturelle dans les affaires de la vie. Les besoins d'une société sont si variés, la communication des hommes est si active, leurs intérêts sont si multipliés, et leurs rapports si étendus, qu'il est impossible au législateur de pourvoir à tout.

When did Western society get so stupid? (0, Troll)

judeancodersfront (1760122) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337580)

If anything this law will just remind employers that they can use facebook to read about applicants. As if you can stop anyone from looking at facebook.

What about where cameras are used to make sure employees are working? What about companies that have high rates of employee theft?

I'm going to go ahead and assume these laws were written by baby boomers. That generation is obsessed with "sticking it to the man" to the point of total idiocy.

Re:When did Western society get so stupid? (0, Flamebait)

Forbman (794277) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337668)

...as opposed to the corporate fascists in the US advocating the exact opposite (monitoring employee's off-hours lives via Facebook, etc), thin-skinned managers and corporate officers, etc doing likewise? Granted, there are industries where there are needs (having worked for quite awhile at a company that blocked web-based internet mail, such as Gmail), where it would be entirely possible to cut-and-paste a customer's (or a few million) PII into a message somewhere, and yet the company has a legal mandate, because of the industry (in my case, SEC and other financial regulations, but HIPPA is another), to at some level be able to monitor or reactively look for such violations through its servers.

This isn't even with regards to protecting confidential corporate information or trade secrets.

Smarter Germans, Stupid Americans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33337694)

I just have to assume you have no clue how different Europe, Germany and the US are.

You are the fool here, employers already know about Facebook, this law will not encourage its use in any way. You won't stop them from looking at Facebook, but you can't use it during an interview or the process.

You can't ask a potential employee to login, and I hear places in the US that require you to!

These laws are reasonable and give citizens (employees) better protection for modern problems in the workplace!

If you need to monitor your employees with cameras something is very wrong. You either find other ways of monitoring them or you don't at all. Try hiring a manager or find better employees.

Theft can be monitored in many different ways. Locks, checkpoints, RFID and physical security. You can monitor your goods, just not track every employees GPS signal in-house.

The point is to not have a "1984 society" where all your actions are logged by the company. Toilet breaks and private calls should not be detailed in your work history!

Quite frankly I think you're an idiot for any number of reasons. "Baby boomers" in the US are different lot to Germans in general. You wouldn't understand a European society regardless of what age the lawmakers were.
 

Re:When did Western society get so stupid? (1)

moronoxyd (1000371) | more than 4 years ago | (#33338040)

What about companies that have high rates of employee theft?

The proposed law explicitly allows cameras for security reasons or when there is probable cause to assume an employee is commting theft or such like.

The law is against general surveillance.

Work related vs Private (2, Informative)

JackieBrown (987087) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337598)

How do they determine what is a private email or call versus private?

At my job (granted that is in the US,) if it is using company resources, then it is work related. I have to sign several papers agreeing to that when I am hired (and every year or so they make us sign it again.)

Re:Work related vs Private (3, Insightful)

melmut (968751) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337754)

I think there is some big cultural difference here between the US and Europe. I worked as a sysadmin for a few years. As far as I know, monitoring employees is completely illegal here (Belgium). You can't read emails or try to see which web sites have been visited by an employee. At most, you can make anonymous statistics, and I think you have to warn employees before. I don't think it would be legal to physically watch an employee all day, neither. Having employees sign some kind of agreement would be illegal, too. Saying that it's your computer so you can monitor them if you want has no legal value. It's your air, but you can't decide how much an employee can breathe ;-) I remember asking legal advice before signing my first contract. The conclusion was there was an illegal clause, which I could sign without any problem, as it was illegal and in fact had no value.

Re:Work related vs Private (1)

xnpu (963139) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337776)

At a number of companies I've seen that any phone number not in the company address book is considered private. The company address book would obviously not be private and reviewed occasionally.

Re:Work related vs Private (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33337836)

I sometimes browse the internet or read the paper when I'm stuck waiting for the slow as dirt computers at my workplace to process. I'm not sure if I should or should not consider that private. I mean, I'm still *doing* something work related, technically, I'm just also doing something non-work related since I can do both.

Hell, if I worked at McDonalds and I can use one hand to flip burgers and the other hand is free, can I use said other hand to scratch my nuts or should I just let it flop around doing nothing?

Summary fail (2, Informative)

edjs (1043612) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337634)

Just looking at the "ban employers from surveilling their employees by cameras or logging and reading their emails" sections of the translated article, it's clear that it mentions banning cameras in traditionally private places such as wash rooms, but allowing open surveillance in areas where it makes a business/safety sense to do so, and I think it says telephone/email monitoring will be allowed (and probably required) based on regulations covering the industry in question; I see nothing about banning.

Employers should not be allowed at FB etc.. (1)

aristotle-dude (626586) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337814)

If you want to prevent your employees from using facebook and similar sites, make it a firewall rule that redirects to a page clearly stating that it is blocked and be done with it. Also be sure to publish a clear acceptable use policy.

However, it is a violation of the rights of privacy for a prospective employer or existing employer to check out the facebook sites of either current or prospective employees.

fb (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33337818)

it would only be illegal to look for information about an applicant if facebook is not a service meant to be used to find work.

so find any facebook company pr that praises the service as a great way to find a job - and voila.

now wait, let's have a look at http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?factsheet

"...communicating efficiently with ... coworkers". that's pretty close.

quite a few other things discussed right now are actually illegal anyway. but hey, good to know that the administration seems to be doing something after all of these years. (scnr) .~.

What about defense agencies and contractors? (1)

Garble Snarky (715674) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337870)

Defense agencies and contractors in the US monitor all employee computer use, and I don't expect that to change here any time soon - and I don't really have a problem with it. Is this law going to apply to the German government as well?

How Do Europeans Do It? (5, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337902)

The stories about privacy protections always seem to favor personal privacy in Europe, but to favor privacy invasion in the US. How do Europeans get better protection? European government looks a lot more bureaucratic and controlled access than even the US, which I would think would favor industry which has the time and money to ensure privacy can be abused for power and profit. Maybe it's because the protections begin at the state level, which is more accessible than the EU as a whole, while in the US state privacy protections aren't as powerful as Federal protections for invading them, or just a vacuum of protections at the Federal level. Or maybe EU privacy orgs are just more effective, perhaps better funded, than the US ones like EFF. Or maybe we just get the news of only privacy protection from EU, not privacy abuse, while in the US we get the abuse news so we're conditioned to accept it.

How do Europeans do it? I'm jealous.

Re:How Do Europeans Do It? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33337984)

If the USA did it remaining corporations would jump ship to less proactive countries. EU doesn't have that problem because they already have.

they aren't really better (3, Informative)

yyxx (1812612) | more than 4 years ago | (#33337998)

Many of these protections are already in place in the US and Europe is just catching up. For example, US employers have been limited for years in how they can use social networking sites, based on existing US non-discrimination and privacy laws. Many of those restrictions in the US are based on case law; they don't require separate legislation. In Europe, legislators need to pass many more explicit laws, and a lot of that is knee-jerk reactions to recent events and populist legislation that sounds good on the surface but that nobody knows how it's going to work out in the long run.

And you're also right that a lot of European privacy abuse just isn't reported on much in the US. For example, the law in the story was prompted by several huge scandals in which big German companies spied on their employees, again in ways that are already totally illegal under US law.

Other European privacy abuses aren't even perceived as such in Europe; people are just used to a more intrusive government. Many other European privacy abuses aren't visible at all. For example, despite all the brouhaha over Google Streetview in Germany (=big evil US corporation), it turns out that the German government itself regularly does detailed aerial surveys and precise GPS measurements of buildings and sells that information to anybody willing to pay for it (starting at around $200k); that data really is problematic, since it not only shows in great detail private areas protected by fences, but also is being used to charge individuals with code violations. And it's quite clear that European intelligence services spy on their citizens without as much as anybody even batting an eye.

Much of the "Europe is better" perception is a myth, created by the European media and European governments to make Europeans happy, and some of that propaganda spills over into the US.

Moved on from the cold war (2, Insightful)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 4 years ago | (#33338004)

I remember East Germany. That was a time and place where privacy was an absurd concept. Where has the US gone since the cold war? It doesn't feel much different to me.

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