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Biometrics in the Workplace

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the gattaca dept.

Privacy 554

ryth writes "The Globe and Mail reports that McDonald's Restaurants and a few other companies in Canada have introduced palm-scanning technologies for employees. Workers are now expected to 'sign' in and out using their palm prints to record the exact time of arrival and the identity of the employee. Quoted in the article Jorn Nordmann, president of S.M. Products, was blunt about why he installed a hand scanner at his fish-processing plant in Delta, B.C. 'If you want to control a whole bunch of people, it's the only way to go.' It seems that some of the most underpaid and undervalued workers are starting to be treated no better than the animals they are frying up." Except for the frying part.

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GNAA confirms: Linux is dying (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7972091)

GNAA / Google confirms: Linux is dying.
By GNAA Staff

Here you have it: it's official; Google confirms: Desktop Linux is dying.

Now, you might be thinking this is just another cut & paste troll based on the typical *BSD is dying bullshit.
It isn't.
As you might have know, your favorite search engine, Google [google.com] , has been running a little statistics service, called "Zeitgeist [google.com] ".
Since about a year ago, they started providing statistics of the operating systems used to access their search engine worldwide.
I will let the numbers speak for themselves:

Operating Systems Accessing Google in January 2002 [google.com]
Operating Systems Accessing Google in March 2002 [google.com]
Operating Systems Accessing Google in April 2002 [google.com]
Operating Systems Accessing Google in May 2002 [google.com]
Operating Systems Accessing Google in June 2002 [google.com]
Operating Systems Accessing Google in July 2002 [google.com]
Operating Systems Accessing Google in August 2002 [google.com]
Operating Systems Accessing Google in September 2002 [google.com]
Operating Systems Accessing Google in November 2002 [google.com]
Operating Systems Accessing Google in December 2002 [google.com]
Operating Systems Accessing Google in January 2003 [google.com]
Operating Systems Accessing Google in February 2003 [google.com]
Operating Systems Accessing Google in April 2003 [google.com]
Operating Systems Accessing Google in May 2003 [google.com]
Operating Systems Accessing Google in June 2003 [google.com]
Operating Systems Accessing Google in July 2003 [google.com]
Operating Systems Accessing Google in August 2003 [google.com]
Operating Systems Accessing Google in September 2003 [google.com]
Operating Systems Accessing Google in November 2003 [google.com]

If you've looked at even a few of these links, you don't need to be a Kreskin [amdest.com] to predict Desktop Linux's future. The hand writing is on the wall: Desktop Linux faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for Linux on Desktop because Linux is dying. Things are looking very bad for Linux on Desktop. As many of us are already aware, Linux on Desktop continues to lose market share. Red ink flows like a river of blood.

According to Google Zeitgeist [google.com] , there are about 80% of Internet Explorer 6 [microsoft.com] users. The only platform supporting Internet Explorer 6 is, of course, Microsoft Windows. These statistics are consistent with the earlier presented graphs of the operating systems used to access Google, with the Windows family consistently taking the top 3 ranks. Out of remaining 20%, the split is even between MSIE 5.5, MSIE 5.0, both Windows-only browsers. Netscape 5.x (including Mozilla) counts for only a measly 5% of browsers used to access Google. As you can see from the graph, this sample was calculated starting from March 2001 until September 2003.

Linux "leaders" will have you believe that Linux is gaining market share. However, according to Google [google.com] , "Linux" was never a top 10 search word at *any time* since Google began tracking search statistics. This can only mean one thing: Linux is dying.

All major surveys show that Linux on Desktop is something never meant to happen. Repeatedly, reputable organizations review Desktop Linux offerings, and consistently [osnews.com] give [com.com] it [com.com] unacceptable [yahoo.com] scores, compared to even Apple [apple.com] 's MacOS X [apple.com] , which is actually based on the "claimed to by dying long time ago" *BSD. If you paid attention to the operating systems used to access Google graphs earlier, you will notice that MacOS has consistently scored higher percentages than Linux. Infact, the obscure "other" category, which we assume is embedded systems, PDA's, cellular phones, etc, has at times ranked Higher [google.com] than even Mac OS - and of course, Linux.

In almost 2 years worth of statistics, Linux [linux.com] has NEVER outranked even such a truly "dying" OS as Mac OS, and infact, never raised above the 1% mark. When Windows XP [microsoft.com] was released, Google searches for Linux drastically decreased [google.com] . This clearly demonstrates that Linux on Desktop is, for all practical purposes, dead.

Fact: Desktop Linux is dead.

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I GOT A GREASED UP YODA DOLL SHOVED UP MY ASS! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7972092)

GO LINUX!

Swipe Card (3, Insightful)

BigDork1001 (683341) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972098)

While not as high-tech why not just stick with a punch card or swipe card. Sure you can get a few people who will punch in for someone every once and a while or something what's the big deal. This just sounds like a gigantic waste of money to me.

Re:Swipe Card (1)

xSquaredAdmin (725927) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972119)

Where I work, we have swipe cards which we have to use to get into the building. They record who enters/exits the building and when. And we also afe a completely separate timecard program on our computers, for punching in and out.

Re:Swipe Card (1)

Cliffm (44720) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972123)

I would guess that people lose cards often.

Re:Swipe Card (4, Insightful)

Slick_Snake (693760) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972151)

Sure you can get a few people who will punch in for someone every once and a while or something what's the big deal. This just sounds like a gigantic waste of money to me.

Paying for employees time when they are not there is a waste of money too.

The point is more about forcing the employees to be responcible and accountable. Just about everywhere I worked cared more about your atendance and puncuality than they did about any other aspect of our with. Its not like is any different that using punch cards other than the employees can't cheat the system.

Re:Swipe Card (4, Insightful)

dummkopf (538393) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972152)

it's not just the swipe card, you also want to make sure that whoever swiped the card is the person on it. i think the idea is to check when people come and go and make sure cousin jake is not filling in for you while you have a cold...

Re:Swipe Card (1)

joebagodonuts (561066) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972162)

Scanners are becoming cheaper, so it isn't the waste of money that it used to be. Depending on how many employees are tracked with a scanner instead of a punch-clock, it might be money well spent.

Re:Swipe Card (1)

tjensor (571163) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972171)

Because you can give your card to some other guy you work with, and he can swipe/punch you in. This is basicly a new way for bosses to express distrust of their workforce - or acknowledge that the jobs are so shitty, that people will try to skip out.

Re:Swipe Card (5, Funny)

Dilbert_ (17488) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972172)

I guess this also explains those 'Employees are expected to wash their hands after using the lavatory' signs then ;-)

Re:Swipe Card (2, Interesting)

McLuke (603959) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972176)

I used to work at a McDonalds in a regional area of Victoria, Australia, and even we had electronic clock in/out computers, where you entered and assigned code so they could record and pay you to the exact amount of minutes you worked.

Control Central (5, Funny)

hplasm (576983) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972099)

'If you want to control a whole bunch of people, it's the only way to go.'

Coming soon to a population center near you...

Re:Control Central (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7972128)

I for one welcome our new Biometric-Tracking Overlords

Re:Control Central (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7972256)

Biometric-Tracking...what's it all about? Is it cool, or is it whack?

Re:Control Central (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7972186)

The solution to this is obvious. Except for the frying part.

Just dip your hands in a deep fryer on slap them down on your McDonalds grille, this should render your handprints unrecognizable.

Re:Control Central (1)

Black Rabbit (236299) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972235)

Better than that...get "FUCK YOU" tattooed on the palm of your hand!

Re:Control Central (1)

slash-tard (689130) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972260)

There was a recent story about an older guy who worked at a nuclear plant who was fired because he couldnt get a good scan on the fingerprint scanners anymore.

I know your joking, but I work with several people who cant get good scans on our readers.

Better make sure... (4, Interesting)

xSquaredAdmin (725927) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972100)

that people wash their hands before coming to work, because if everyone is putting their hand on the scanner, there could definitely be some health issues.

Re:Better make sure... (1)

dave420 (699308) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972114)

or just wash your hands afterwards... ;)

Re:Better make sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7972121)

Seriously dude, how many things do you touch in a day that others already have?

Door handles, railings, the tap in the toilets that you turn on just after the large, sweaty man who peed on his hands turned it off...

Re:Better make sure... (1)

stroudie (173480) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972122)

and indeed, that they wash their hands afterwards, or McD's palm-scanners will get full of grease...

...and wouldn't that be a shame

Re:Better make sure... (5, Insightful)

DigitumDei (578031) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972131)

Unlike that door handle they most likely touched while coming into the building?

Pick your nose (1)

millahtime (710421) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972170)

What if someone picks their nose and scans their hand. Would you really want to scan you hand next???

Re:Better make sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7972213)

well... how about money then? are people washing up before touching banknotes?

huh? (5, Interesting)

selacious (101257) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972102)

Check me if I'm wrong Sammy, but I don't see how making employees sign in and out is all that terrible. Would it make people feel better if these employees pushed a button to sign in instead of having their palms scanned?

Re:huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7972148)

that's exactly what happens at McDonalds - I know. I was late every single day until I just stopped turning up!

RFID (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7972149)

Heck, why not embed RFID tags in such employees? </sarcasm>

Re:RFID (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7972243)

Don't give them ideas. I'm sure this isn't far off.

Re:huh? (1, Insightful)

octal666 (668007) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972212)

It's not the same, selacious, when in work i like to be treated like a person, I mean, I can arrive five minutes late, and my boss, who knows me, decides if it's ok or not, 'cause he knows if someone is pressing the button for me. But if a scanner tells someone up the piramid that employee #101257 is arriving late on a regular basis, he doesn't know if I work well, or if I have personal problems and try to catch up this minutes or many things that dealing directly with a boss can be explained. It's treating people like cattle because they are only a number and a timetable.

Re:huh? (1)

asb (1909) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972218)

Because then your buddy could punch you in if you have a hang over and need to sleep late.

Re:huh? (2, Insightful)

pubjames (468013) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972245)

Check me if I'm wrong Sammy, but I don't see how making employees sign in and out is all that terrible. Would it make people feel better if these employees pushed a button to sign in instead of having their palms scanned?

Yes, I'm an employer and I think you're absolutely right. You can't trust people to do the right thing, so must treat them like children or animals.

They should have pay docked by the minute if they're late. Of course if they're a early that time doesn't count, and of course if at the end of the day it takes them longer to finish than the hours you are paying them for, them that must be their fault so they shouldn't be paid for that either.

At my company, all employees wear a special hat with a cam and microphone pointed at thier faces, so that we can see and hear them at any time. If they are doing or saying anything that isn't strictly work related, we dock those minutes from their pay too. It is very efficient - it keeps our salary bills low. We do have some problems with staff retention though.

Re:huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7972279)

Can't you just employ ex-Big Brother contestants? They love this sort of surveillance.

No kidding (5, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972251)

At a couple jobs I've worked I was expected to punch in and out. When I arrived, I took a card and put it in a stamper, same whenever I left. Was used to track my hours. Seems like a perfectly reasonable request by an employer, that they might want to know what hours you worked.

However time card have problems. They are easily damaged, since they are just paper. Also it is possible to get confused, and grab the wrong card, I did that on one occasion. However more important to an employer, another employee could punch a friend in, making it appear as if they were there.

This eliminates problems and just streamlines everything. You scan you plam, it knows you are you and clocks you in. Scan again to clock out. No confusion and no practical way to fake it.

This in no way limits your privacy your rights or anything else. You employer has a right to know when you are working for them. And guess what? If the system is lax, people will abuse it. Like now I work at a university and all hourly positions (which is only student positions really) simply fill out a timebook once a week, which is then signed by their supervisor. So what happens? You guessed it, people cheat. A student will show up to work 15 minutes late, take a long lunch, and slip out 30 minutes eairly yet still report a full work day.

It works the other way too. Makes it much harder for a company to screw you. Say you need to work late. They decide they don't want to pay you for that time to try to claim you weren't there. Hard for them to say if there is a palm scan record of you leaving. Much easier to say if there is no record, or just a punch card.

No big changes (4, Insightful)

Oculus Habent (562837) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972104)

This is old business with a new timecard. Some businesses (people, really) watch the one- and two-minute differences with no forgiveness.

Is it so significant that a palm scanner is being used now? It prevents deception - it's unlikely you'll cut off a hand for your friend to clock you in early. Other than that, it means you can't lose your timecard (major accidents excepted). Oh, and you might want to wash your hands more...

Re:No big changes (0)

highwebl (726342) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972197)

Ye are damned, ye instant pudding demon. For the lord shall cast you down into a bathtub of your vile substance. For the Lord sayeth that only the cooked pudding leads to the way of salvation.

Re:No big changes (1)

xpurple (1227) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972249)

In some of those fish-processing plants the loss of a hand is more common than you know. The working conditions these people put up with is just terrible. It's very much like the horror stories you hear about the rest of the meat packing industry.

Re:No big changes (1)

gameshints (629632) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972250)

You can't. It checks for body heat too.

Re:No big changes (1)

The Night Watchman (170430) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972273)

This is old business with a new timecard. Some businesses (people, really) watch the one- and two-minute differences with no forgiveness.

I work for a major defense contractor, and we've had a badge-in/badge-out system for years now. Every morning you gotta put your badge up to a scanner, the computer checks your badge ID, logs the time, and the turnstile lets you in. Of course, I usually pray that something goes wrong and it doesn't let me in so that I can go home and take a nap, but so far that hasn't happened. This is hardly surprising, though, in a company where security and protecting classified information is a priority. Still, it does vaguely feel like prison from time to time, especially with all the barbed wire surrounding the place.

Freedom (1)

octal666 (668007) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972108)

Well, it's understandable that a company wants to control their employees, but this degree of control is very annoying for workers, it's stressing and i would feel treated like cattle.

Oh puleez (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7972167)

Well, it's understandable that a company wants to control their employees, but this degree of control is very annoying for workers, it's stressing and i would feel treated like cattle.

How is this any different than simply punching in with regards to "freedom". Care to explain how this "controls" employees any more than any other form of time tracking?

Re:Freedom (1)

FireballFreddy (472710) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972239)


It isn't a degree of control, it's expecting workers to show up on time. Nothing wrong with that. All it does is weed out the dishonest folk, who are also probably the ones who would spit in your fries. Yay for technology.

Low pay always means more control (5, Insightful)

tobybuk (633332) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972112)

Talking call centers which I know a bit about, it always seems to be the case that the lower you pay someone the more control the employer wants over them.

Re:Low pay always means more control (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7972248)

why is this shocking? we live in a surveilance society. get over it.

you dont think that your e-mails at work arent logged. your login/logout times arent logged. that a router/NAT somehwere in the company isnt taking note of how many times you visit slashdot during the day. Your pbx probably keeps track of how much time you were were on the phone, if you accessed voice mail (i know our the one where I work does). not to mention parking garage, cell phone, atm card, traffic cams...yada yada yada...

come to think of it, working fast food is probably fairly low on the the invasion of privacy scale....

First! (1)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972113)

Workers need to be treated with dignity. Workers are really taking a beating in this country right now. Time for another revolutionary war.

Re:First! (1)

Xzuatl (540964) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972163)

Somebody call the waaanhbulance. If you don't like a job quit. Only fish cutting jobs in BC, come to the US illegally. Everyone else does.

Re:First! (1)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972228)

Wow, you're an ass... Seriously. People's jobs are being exported to cheaper work forces in other countries. Companies post record profits, yet they cant employee American Citizens. NOW they're going to be monitoring and tracking minimum wage earners like criminals? (which they've always been treated as in this country)

Re:First! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7972253)

just in case you din't get the memo:

"the waaanhbulance" is not considered funny, nor clever, nor ironic, nor hip. Please do not use it in conversation again.

The English langauage would like to thankyou for your continued support.

This is no different to a Timecard system... (3, Insightful)

MrRTFM (740877) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972115)

... or a nosy receptionist.

What am I missing here - they are paying for labour, so why shouldn't they make sure people start on time?

Re:This is no different to a Timecard system... (1)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972183)

It depends how they use this information. Will someone be sacked for being 1 min late three times in a week (fairly trite example I know), and what the next controls placed on employees are. When you see something like this you know there is more in the pipeline.

I expect my employer to get value for my salary but given that I like many others work more hours that I get paid for I will not tolerate micromanagent of my workday by my employer.

Re:This is no different to a Timecard system... (1)

MrRTFM (740877) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972257)

Yes, that's the point..

The types of employees you use this system are the sorts that already have the draconian timesheets setup.

My guess is that if they implemented this in a mainsteam environment, they would find that most employees are actually working more that they are paid [at least in the IT environments]

And that would be a fun thing to see - the managers finally seeing how much people are working and NOT getting paid overtime.

Re:This is no different to a Timecard system... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7972265)

Although I am a Corporate McDonald's employee in Oak Brook, IL, this is not official McDonald's communication, and not my field of expertise.

Based on what I've heard in meetings and on the intranet, the whole point of this is to make sure that employees punch the clock themselves, rather than get punched in and not ever come in, or come in late.

It isn't to sack someone if they're a minute late a day or two.

You need to remember that there are several different "managers" dealing with crew in a restaurant, and the one who approves and sends in the payroll was obviously not there for all the open hours of the restaurant, so they don't really know for sure if someone worked the hours on their time card.

Also, in a business with the employee numbers of McDonald's across Canada, getting back the pay for 1 minute per week per employee if you accurately track their time is a significant figure - and it isn't pay that the employee is entitled to if they aren't there and working.

Their time, their rules (5, Insightful)

sam0ht (46606) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972116)


When your employer is paying for your time, they have a right to measure how much of it they are getting. Just like you have a right to put that bag of sugar on the scales and check that it really is 1kg.

Seems reasonable enough to me, anyway.

Re:Their time, their rules (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7972199)

Treating people as objects -- Marx called this the objectification of labour. I call I the attitude of arseholes.

selfridges london has it already (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7972118)

I know someone who works at Selfridges in London and they have some kind of hand-scanner there for the staff to clock in and out. Doesn't sound too intrusive and stops staff clocking each other in and out and conning the system, or people who don't work there stealing a swipe card and sneaking in. Sounds like the system isn't being used properly cos they never get the overtime calculated right...

Re:selfridges london has it already (5, Funny)

hplasm (576983) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972185)

Sounds like the system isn't being used properly cos they never get the overtime calculated right...

Ain't that like management? Check the employee in/out times with an atomic clock, work out the overtime with a sundial...

Re:selfridges london has it already (1)

AllUsernamesAreGone (688381) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972238)

"Sounds like the system isn't being used properly cos they never get the overtime calculated right..."

No, that indicates the system is working flawlessly.. from the point of view of management anyway. It ensures the staff are firmly controlled and it provides a neat way of saying "you're not getting any overtime you horrible little peon" - it is far easier to say "oh, the computer must have got it wrong again, we'll sort it out next time". People will believe anything of computers..

Why the whining? (1)

T5 (308759) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972125)

What is the submitter whining about? Palm print authentication? How is that any different than a old-fashioned timeclock, other than the fact that it virtually removes the possibility of fraudulent time charging?

Biometrics is not necessarily equivalent to privacy invasion.

Re:Why the whining? (1)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972150)

yeah... i agree.... who wants that $5 extra hour, that your friend clocked you in for.

Re:Why the whining? (1)

August_zero (654282) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972188)

I agree with the submitter in spirit, why is it that the lowest payed workers are the ones that need such accurate, high security time clocks? I could understand incorporating such system at say Pfizer, or some other huge company that has very real security concerns regarding product information. But worrying if a minimum wage fry cook is stiffing you for a few minuets clocking in late for a shift? Doesn't this seem a little goofy to you? How much do these people even make per hour? I bet a lot less than what installing system is going to cost. I mean even outside of tinfoil hat territory this just seems excessive.

Re:Why the whining? (1)

binaryDigit (557647) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972242)

I agree with the submitter in spirit, why is it that the lowest payed workers are the ones that need such accurate, high security time clocks?

Because they tend to be working in larger numbers and the companies they work for typcially have smaller margins. Also, with customer service companies, when Chuck the fry cook decides to leave an hour early and have Molly punch him out, it could lead to soggy fries and unhappy customers.

Do you have enough of an understanding of these companies and their balance sheets (margins, calculated money lost to time card fraud, etc) to see why something like may or may not make sense. Not saying that I do, but I'm not the one criticizing their actions.

Plus what does security have to do with this? You think McDonalds is worried about someone from Burger King punching in as an employee and stealing the next days menu?

Re:Why the whining? (1)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972266)

First off, if you work at Mcdonalds you get free food. Now if they're handing out free burgers to their workers, surely that $5 hour their friend clocked them in for, isnt a big hit. Hell a meal alone at mcdonalds is $5. How many of those do they sell a day? :) I'm guessing thousands hehe

yuck! are those scanners grease-proof? (1)

dummkopf (538393) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972132)

i want to see that scanner in mcdonalds after about a month of employees slapping their greasy palm on the scanner. will it still work then?

Canadian law? (5, Insightful)

tuxette (731067) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972136)

I'm not very familiar with the new Canadian privacy law, but the article seems to imply that the protection of an individual's personal data only applies to the individual as a consumer, not the individual as an employee. It also implies that as an employee, your personal data can, in some instances, be used for other purposes than the original purpose for its collection. (Any Canadian privacy experts out there who can enlighten me and the rest of us?)

If what I assume is correct, there is no reason for McDonalds to not use the hand/fingerprint data in some other way, if they wanted to, for example checking for criminal records, as mentioned in the article. They say they won't use the data for anything else, but they have also said their food is healthy. Would employees have the right to be informed if McDonalds suddenly used the hand/fingerprint data for something other than clocking in and out? Plus, it is not impossible for this data to be stolen and then abused. Who would then be responsible, under Canadian law? If employees have weaker protection under the law, does this mean that employers aren't required to secure the personal data of its employees the same way an e-tailer is required to the secure personal data of its customers?

Another problem is what happens when this technology becomes mainstream, and used in most workplaces. It is understandably used in workplaces where security is an issue, and for now it's only McDonalds and a handful of other places that do not have the same security concerns as say, a nuclear power plant. The more use, the more potential for abuse. Workers need to have their rights secured before these devices are used. I just hope Manitoba (and the other provinces lacking strong provincial privacy legislation) wake up and create new laws to protect the people!

Re:Canadian law? (1)

sweede (563231) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972268)

you say " there is no reason for McDonalds to not use the hand/fingerprint data in some other way, if they wanted to, for example checking for criminal records, "

I dont know how it is up in canada, but here in the U.S. Employers have a RIGHT to know the criminal background of the prospective employee. HOWEVER, Employers do NOT have the right to discriminate against the persons previous criminal activity unless it is a threat to their workplace (you dont want a convicted bank robber working as a teller for First USA do you? )
Employers can use your S.S. number your drivers license number or hell, even your first and last name (OMG Personal data!!) to check your criminal background records.

Also, i would like you to find where in Canadian law (or U.S. law eve) it says that the Employee has less rights than the Employer.

i guess (1)

demonhold (735615) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972143)

in most jobs people are somehow controlled. I guess the company has some right to it, after all, if paying you some money for that time you spend working for them...

but this systems seem so invasive to me...

Re:i guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7972181)

but this systems seem so invasive to me...

Care to explain how this is any more invasive than punching a time card? Afraid they'll analyze the materials found on your hand and determine that you've been smoking pot, shooting guns, whacking off (perhaps all at once?).

Provided they don' t share the info (1)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972147)

then what's the problem?
It's highly unlikely they're making full palmprint data available to any shadowy organisations, rather than simply using a hash of the data to authenticate users. It's a non-issue.

Bad News (1)

Potor (658520) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972156)

This is bad news for workers in the service industry, since McDs always leads the technological way, and sets the de facto working standards. Moreover, let's not forget that McDs is not above snooping; for instance, they infiltrated the London branch of Greenpeace from 1989-1991 (they actually employed two competing detective agencies!).

Re:Bad News (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7972247)

So perhaps it was really their Greenpeace spies who printed those pamphlets full of incorrect and/or unprovable accusations about McD's work practices...

Re:Bad News (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7972254)

i don't know, but i do know that their spies distributed said leaflets...

Re:Bad News (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7972267)

This is bad news for workers in the service industry

Again, care to explain exactly how this is bad? How does this allow McD's to "snoop" any more than any other form of time tracking?

Moreover, let's not forget that McDs is not above snooping; for instance, they infiltrated the London branch of Greenpeace from 1989-1991 (they actually employed two competing detective agencies!).

Yes, and GreenPeace is known for their highly moral and ethical practices to further their cause. Did McD's intentionally sabotage any of GreenPeaces activities, no, well I guess McD's can claim moral high ground here.

So What (1)

davew666 (555119) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972157)

They are being paid to do a certain amount of work, why is it wrong that the employer knows if they are doing this work or not? It's not as if they are collecting more personal data and giving it out. Is this worse than time stamping cards like they used to do? As far as I am concerned it is much easier for both the employer and the employee.

What happens when..... (1)

millahtime (710421) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972159)

a fry cook burns his hand on the grease??? Does he just keep getting paid until his hand heals and he can sign out.

Is it THAT bad? (3, Interesting)

The-Bus (138060) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972160)

His 50 employees would often "buddy-punch," meaning that they would punch the time clock for people who had not shown up. "They're typical workers," Mr. Nordmann said. "It's not nice work. You have a lot of turnover. You have them one week, and the next week they're gone. You can't tell the faces any more."


This is a completely valid viewpoint. My main question is how is this an invasion of privacy? I wouldn't have a problem scanning in my hand to check in to work -- but it seems that a lot of people do. I guess letting companies having biometric information could be the beginning of a long and slippery slope, but I can't really see a worst case scenario... someone care to visualize it for me?

In other news, this would meet a lot greater resistance if McDonald's allowed its workers to form unions. The restaurants have some of the worst turnover because the working conditions are abismal and the company squashes any attempts at its workers to form unions. More information can be found in the book Fast Food Nation [amazon.com] which I definitely recommend as a good read -- it goes into worker treatment at both fast food restaurants as well as meat packing plants and the entire fast food industry as a whole, from advertising to production to health issues. I recommend as a read although be warned, you may not want to go back to McDonald's again. I haven't gone back. But that's because their food tastes like crap.

Re:Is it THAT bad? (1, Interesting)

anti-tech (724667) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972200)

the beginning of a long and slippery slope, but I can't really see a worst case scenario... someone care to visualize it for me?

You have collected electronic data that can now be shared if the employer desires to do so. Imagine a central office that watches the comings/goings of all employees at all McD's in the region. Next step, share the data with law enforcement. Soon you can have a tracking system for everyone that is employed anywhere. Put biometric scanners on hotel rooms, taxis, anywhere that you might use a key and hello Big Brother Police state.

I am not saying that this will happen, but it could, and that is enough to want me to start worrying about my privacy.

Re:Is it THAT bad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7972261)

Hmm... I see a problem with the 'share the data with law enforcement' stage. That should presumably require some kind of warrant to permit it... then again, the way things are headed at the moment, it might just be allowed as another way to find 'terrorists'...

Re:Is it THAT bad? (1, Interesting)

tuxette (731067) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972223)

My main question is how is this an invasion of privacy? I wouldn't have a problem scanning in my hand to check in to work -- but it seems that a lot of people do. I guess letting companies having biometric information could be the beginning of a long and slippery slope, but I can't really see a worst case scenario... someone care to visualize it for me?

I am one of those who would have a big problem with scanning into work with my palm, fingers, eyeballs, or whatever, unless I worked at a military installation or similar. Biometrics are used under the presumption that an employer will cheat when being clocked in and out. The presumption of guilt. I find that very offensive. I find it very offensive that I have to take the risk of having my biometric data on some database that can at any time be compromised, just becasue some suit thinks his employees are trying to cheat him.

Re:Is it THAT bad? (1)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972252)

I guess letting companies having biometric information could be the beginning of a long and slippery slope, but I can't really see a worst case scenario... someone care to visualize it for me?

The scene in "Minority Report" where Tom Cruise was getting bombarded with personalised advertising as a result of a retina scan? It might be OK if you've just bought a shiny new Lexus, but it's not so OK if you've just bought a "marital aid"...

Re:Is it THAT bad? (1)

dylan_- (1661) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972277)

I guess letting companies having biometric information could be the beginning of a long and slippery slope, but I can't really see a worst case scenario... someone care to visualize it for me?
Ok, since you asked, REALLY worst case scenario... [marshallbrain.com] ;-)

Now IF... (1)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972164)

Now if they could only keep their employee's palm prints off my Big Mac

Ewwwww...... (1)

Manassas (569545) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972166)

Privacy and being treated badly be damned...where have all those hands been and what have they been doing? Gross!

strange but (0)

relrelrel (737051) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972180)

I don't see how this is even remotely useful in this situation.

McDonald's is using biometrics now? OK, what's the reason? Oh there isn't one.

I'm not trying to troll but, seriously, why bother doing this in McDonald's? It hasn't outlined one good reason for doing so.

Re:strange but (1)

DirkDaring (91233) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972206)

Easy, to protect the secret sauce on the Big Mac!

We have a swipe in/out card (2, Informative)

Moderation abuser (184013) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972184)

And swipe access to some of the internal doors. If you haven't swiped in at the entrance you can't get through the internal doors, it's a kind of login system. It may well be used for time monitoring but it's main purpose is security, they also use it to produce a checklist of employees who are in the building in the event of a disaster like a fire.

Re:We have a swipe in/out card (1)

Inda (580031) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972224)

We have found that method to be unrealiable. Too many people tailgate others into and out of the building.

There has even been an incident of two people cramming into a revolving door so that one person (me) could get a discounted lunch.

No security (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7972191)

Biometrics is the worst security apparatus ever created.

1) In the future, we're going to have a lot of thumbless (and eyeless) people running around the country side. Simple way for terrorists to get into a building: cut of the thumb of an employee. They don't even have to torture for passwords or other information.

2) Sometimes you share passwords - sometimes for valid reasons. Are you willing to share your thumb?

Place Sandwich Here (1)

cattail.nu (724860) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972203)

They better label those hand scanners or employees might get confused!

Is this just another step so managers don't actually have to talk to people or pay attention to what is going on in their shop?

Ancient Anguish [anguish.org]

You want Capitalism? We've got Capitalism! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7972204)


You all are missing the point. This is actually a beautiful way to make money. Get hired, copyright your fingerprint pattern, and then shakedown your employer for all of the electronic copies he makes. No wait, write a program that generates music from the data in your fingerprint pattern, join the RIAA and wait a few years. Give them a big bill.

Yee haaa! You want capitalism? We've got capitalism.

So? Punch cards are old hat. (5, Interesting)

Baavgai (598847) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972210)

I'm not sure what issue taken with this is. Everyone who works a regular job is expected to show up on time and stay the duration of the day. Many jobs have some kind of time card system in place to help monitor this. That the system is more automated and exact would only be of concern to those who wish to cheat the system.

I work for a public utility. We had the hand punch system years ago. ( I always threatened to make a rubber hand, but never got around to it. ) Now we have the finger print reader instead. Overall, it tends to help both sides, since employees can often prove they were on site even if their supervisors weren't sure.

As a side note, biometric data can leak. Our finger print database is intentionally stored at a slightly lower resolution than the federal standard. The reason is that if we kept government quality information, we'd be required to surrender a copy of that information to the government. Now that's scary.

firearms (0)

relrelrel (737051) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972211)

'If you want to control a whole bunch of people, it's the only way to go.'

They have guns in Canada, right?

Supersized McBomb to go please. (0)

vertigo_ok (226953) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972216)

This, naturally, will cut down on the massive amount of fraudulent workers who wander into McDonalds. Furthermore, under the new Homeland Security Act, customers will be assigned a color code to match them to the employees who best fit their personality. Known terrorists will be prevented from clocking in at McDonalds, making your local play place safe from suicide bombers from the kitchen.

I just hope they don't confuse the grill with the scanner, that could make for a nasty burn :)

-j

My thoughts (1)

SimianOverlord (727643) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972220)

It's no surprise to me that this comes in for the lowest paid and most exploited workers who can't really complain, and likely aren't too concerned about this invasion of privacy. You can't honestly say there aren't ways of accomplishing the accurate signing in of employees without the need to resort to taking biometric data. I have a basic philosophical problem with corporate entities taking information they don't need, nor have any entitlement too.

Wrong approach (2, Insightful)

BenjyD (316700) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972222)

His 50 employees would often "buddy-punch," ... "They're typical workers," Mr. Nordmann said. "It's not nice work. You have a lot of turnover. You have them one week, and the next week they're gone. You can't tell the faces any more."

What a wonderful view of workers. Sort of Victorian workhouse style. He could always try treating his staff well enough that they don't cheat the system or quit all the time.

Did anyone else think (1)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972229)

STINKPALM!!

just before putting your hand on the scanner?

Expect to see (0, Offtopic)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972230)

A lot of frequent masturbators being sacked from McDonalds for poor timekeeping due to the scanners inability to deal with hairy palms.

slightly off-topic, but needs to be said... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7972241)

"It seems that some of the most underpaid and undervalued workers are starting to be treated no better than the animals they are frying up. Except for the frying part."

Homer Simpson: Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals... except the weasel.

Hmmmmmm (1)

tealover (187148) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972246)

Fried Fish Workers.

Big Deal (1)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972274)

We've had a palm-reading system for four years now, and once some people's initial concerns about being finger-printed were relieved (which isn't what's happening, at our place or at McDonald's), no one cared. There's no invasion of privacy in making sure that it's you who are punching in.

Been doing this for years... (1)

actor_au (562694) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972275)

I don't see the fuss, where I work, a supermarket in Australia, they scan your right index finger when you have to sign in or out, it only takes a second to do and no-one can cheat it.

Now if they gave these file to the government then I'd be pissed off. But they haven't done that yet.
I'd love to see laws preventing that from happening by the way. Of course all someone will have to do to stop it is scream "Terrorists!" and it'll die in the arse.
But I seriously don't see why people are complaining, its not that inconvinient, its not that hard and requires no effort or time to use.

Peple can still cheat the system by saying their fingers wouldn't scan and writing in a different time but thats more effort than comming in on time in my experience.
I guess its different in the US, but no-one I know really cares all that much about it.

Thanks McDonalds! (1)

virgo cluster (741002) | more than 10 years ago | (#7972276)

This might be another little step in the direction of total control over employees / citizens / human mankind. If you look at it seperately it doesn't seem to be a big deal. But try to see it as a part of a bigger picture with DMCA, "Patriot" Act, DRM, TCPA and a million other things it becomes a bit scary, doesn't it? And of course it is also another example of a company screwing it's employees just because it can. Why should McDonalds trust it's employees instead of controling them you ask? Well I have another question for you, why would anyone want to work for such a company that has a long record of screwing it's own employees (and customers)? McDonalds is just exploiting poor men and women who can't afford loosing their jobs even if they are treated like farm animals. Ask yourself what this says about a society where such things are not only possible but happen every single day...
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