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Covert CCTV Monitoring in the Workplace?

Cliff posted more than 8 years ago | from the sign-o'-the-times dept.

109

An Inquiring Mind asks: "A good friend's employer has recently installed a CCTV system in the office she works at. This is not unusual in itself, but there is no notice that CCTV is in use, and no company policy regarding CCTV use in employee monitoring, data retention, or anything else. My understanding is that CCTV use in the UK is covered by the DPA (Data Protection Act) if: it is used to gather information about an individual; is monitored remotely; or is given to people other than law enforcement bodies (this from a CCTV/PDA document [pdf], from the website of the Information Commissioner's Office). If it does fall under the remit of the DPA, then they would need at least signage, and a policy for the retention of the data. Given that this camera would likely fall foul of the DPA, that challenging the employer would be career suicide (due to internal politics), and that she has nothing to hide -- what do other Slashdot readers think should be the next step for my friend: principled but suicidal stand, or quiet annoyance?" Much of what is allowed depends on the law of the land in your area. Depending on what the laws do and do not allow, how would you safely approach your employers to air your concerns on this subject?

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109 comments

Safely approach? (3, Funny)

Eightyford (893696) | more than 8 years ago | (#14879278)

Depending on what the laws do and do not allow, how would you safely approach your employers to air your concerns on this subject?

Safely approach? Fuck that. They are spying on you, so sue their asses. Or, better yet, get them a hooker and a hotel room. Just make sure to accidentally leave the webcam on. Payback is a bitch.

Never know what the employers use it for (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14879557)

I knew a guy whose job it was to monitor security cameras for a company near where I worked. Apparently he and his co-workers had all sorts of nicknames for the cameras for the things they'd watch for ("upskirt cam" is one I recall that pointed to a public open space where people sat).


I'm amazed more companies and cities that set up these cams aren't sued.

Re:Safely approach? (3, Informative)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14879561)

Just so happens that I build/sell those systems, so I also know their weak points.

You can buy laser pointers for a couple of bucks a piece. I have one handy that I use to tease my dogs with (they love chasing the dot), plus a cctv camera hanging around, so I just tested this to make sure.

Shine the pointer into the camera. You can blind it from 50' away if you have a steady hand.

Re:Safely approach? (1)

ThomaMelas (631856) | more than 8 years ago | (#14879645)

Your hand had better be very steady if you think you can blind a camera at 50'. You're generally going to be aiming target 1/3" by 1/3". Maybe you get lucky and it's a older camera and is 1/2" by 1/2" on the CCD.

Re:Safely approach? (5, Informative)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14879809)

Its not that hard - you're aiming at the lens, not the ccd. The lens does the job of focusing it onto the ccd. Hit the lens pretty much anywhere and the results are bad. The further away, the better, since the "dot" gets bigger, so you need LESS steadiness, not more. But the best part is that its a lot easier to aim than you think - just "walk" the dot across the wall with your hand resting on a desk or other stable surface.

The cameras typically have sensitivities well under 1 lux and their backlight/brightness compensation circuitry can't cope with a laser. Like I said, I tested it with a cctv cam I have hanging around for testing purposes when I build these things, so I know a few of their weaknesses.

Re:Safely approach? (1)

thebes (663586) | more than 8 years ago | (#14880185)

The dot gets bigger, but so does the arc length. A change in aiming angle of 1 degree at 50 feet is a LOT more than the change at 10 feet. With my experience, a laser with a gaussian beam does not diverge a significant amount, even at 50 feet. You could pretty much guarantee that the percentage increase in arc length is MUCH larger than beam divergence.

Re:Safely approach? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14880253)

Why not give it a try, like I did, before saying its that hard. 50' isn't a great distance, not when you're using a laser pointer as your "pointer". From a distance of 50 feet (I just paced it off to test it again) it only takes a couple of seconds to hit the camera lens while seated with my hands on a flat surface. From 15', its really quick and easy, even when "shooting from the hip".

Use a clothes pin to hold the on-off switch in the on position, and set the pointer on one of those "bean-bags" you stick in the microwave and heat up when you want to apply heat to sore muscles, and you can keep it pointed at the camer for as long as the batter lasts.

Re:Safely approach? (1)

thebes (663586) | more than 8 years ago | (#14880564)

I never said you couldn't do it, I just said your reasoning is wrong.

Re:Safely approach? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14880668)

I should have also mentioned that the cheap pointers are best because the beams DO spread out quickly - they're not pin-point sharp. They have a bright center surrounded by a penumbra (cheap lens/no lens, scratches on the surface, etc., all help the beam to widen as it spreads).

This is another example where buying cheap is better, same as motherboards (stupid ASUS A7V8X-X dies 13 months after purchase - the cheap-ass pc-chips I'm typing this on has been running for 5 years without a hiccup, and its handled up to 400 gigs/month. I have yet to see a name-brand (ASUS, MSI) mb last more than a couple of years when run under any sort of load, or a cheapie last less than 5, even when run 24/7. You don't get what you pay for with the name brands).

Re:Safely approach? (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 8 years ago | (#14882016)

I've seen so many PC Chips mobos die it's not funny. Main reason? Bad capacitors that start leaking. Just threw one out last week.

Jaysyn

Re:Safely approach? (0, Offtopic)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14882331)

I guess they saved all those for the US market. In my experience, if its cheap, and it runs a week, it'll run forever. If its name-brand, it dies a few months after the warranty expires. That's why I left the stupid box sit for a year - I was so pissed off! Now there are cheapie versions out that will take the cpu and peripherals, and I can use another box for a specific task, so I don't mind replacing it so much.

The bad caps bit affected the whole industry, and not just motherboards. Like the power supplies that worked fine for a while, then went "bang" one day on power-up and let out all the magic blue smoke ...

Dogs and lasers.. (1)

Philus (58941) | more than 8 years ago | (#14879660)

A guy I know used to tease his dog with a little laser thingie. Now the dog constantly looks around to see where that little dot might have hidden.. I don't think that shit is good for them. Maybe some dogs deal with it better than other though.. YMMV or something.

Re:Dogs and lasers.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14879738)

A visiting relative did the same stupid thing with our Border Collie. The poor dog now scratches around all over the place, looking for that little red dot. She's been spooked by it :(

Re:Dogs and lasers.. (5, Funny)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14879878)

My dogs absolutely love it. There's something to be said about 400 pounds of dogs chasing a tiny dot, pushing each other out of the way. Especially when they try to "gnaw" it off the floor or stomp it with a paw.

What spooks them is the radio-controlled truck one of my daughters gave me for christmas a few years ago. I haven't met a dog that isn't totally freaked by it. Its funny watching my St. Bernard trying to hide in a bathtub (its the only way to get her into the tub).

Next step - "r/c trucks with frigging lasers strapped on them" :-)

Cats, Dogs and lasers.. (1)

Scarletdown (886459) | more than 8 years ago | (#14880013)

I don't own a laser pointer myself, but a flashlight beam is just as effective. My cat will chase it all over the place. However, since she will get frustrated after a while, being unable to catch the light, I make it up to her by dragging a string around for her to chase, catch, and teach a lesson or two. Then after she has had enough, it's lap time while I do stuff online.

Re:Dogs and lasers.. (1)

schon (31600) | more than 8 years ago | (#14880714)

There's something to be said about 400 pounds of dogs chasing a tiny dot, pushing each other out of the way.

Interesting. Have you ever tried to patent that?

If you do, be sure to note prior art [freepatentsonline.com] .

Oh yeah, and I want a cut. :o)

Re:Safely approach? (1)

frodo from middle ea (602941) | more than 8 years ago | (#14880151)

or one could just drop one's pants, and say "eat my shorts"

Re:Safely approach? (1)

henni16 (586412) | more than 8 years ago | (#14880515)

Don't forget to make sure that the last thing on tape isn't your target practice..

Re:Safely approach? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14880585)

Thats why you use a laser pointer - they can't see the beam until it hits the camera - and then the image flare pretty much makes it impossible to see the source.

Re:Safely approach? (1)

AJWM (19027) | more than 8 years ago | (#14880709)

Uh huh. And when they play back the tape that shows you starting to point something at the camera just before it goes blind, you explain that how, exactly?

Re:Safely approach? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14880752)

Think for 2 seconds. If you've ever played with a laser pointer, you know how hard it is for anyone to track down who's doing the pointing. I bring one to the movies any time I go, just to mess around with the stupid ads they run before the movie.

Re:Safely approach? (1)

AJWM (19027) | more than 8 years ago | (#14881201)

Totally different situation.

They just have to examine the few frames before the flare to see if anyone looks like they're pointing at the camera, ie, at the viewer. The biggest clue will be that they're looking at the camera, any easy thing for a human viewer to pick up on.

Now, if you can carefully line up small mirrors or something ahead of time (long enough before that it's on a different recording), and you've worked out the angles, etc, etc, then just maybe you'll get away with it (unless perhaps if they have overlapping camera coverage). But do you want to bet at the very least your job and maybe a prosecution for criminal mischief or vandalism on that?

Re:Safely approach? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14882274)

"Prosecution for criminal mischief or vandalism"?

Criminal mischief? Vandalism? Gee, I can see it now. Boss complains to the police. They ask "What damage was done?" The answer - "Well, uh, none." "In that case its a civil matter. Good-bye."

Laser pointer work-around (4, Funny)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 8 years ago | (#14883604)

One problem with using laser pointers to blind CCTV is that they are usually only one colour, typically red. So, by applying a red filter to the digital image later, you can get something that lacks colour but is still usable.

There was a TV program about this a few years ago, IIRC on Channel 4. The guy never found a way to blind a camera properly. White lasers were not available cheaply then, I don't know about now.

At work, I just stuck up a bit of paper with "NO SIGNAL" written on it. No one has complained so far.

Re:Laser pointer work-around (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14883706)

A bright flashlight does the job as well, but you don't have the convenience of being able to do it from across the room. A strobe light would probably work by saturating the ccd and messing up with the auto-gaoi/white balance/backlight compensation circuitry. Unfortunately, I don't have a strobe light handy to test the theory.

Re:Safely approach? (2, Insightful)

Lord Apathy (584315) | more than 8 years ago | (#14879586)

To much work. Just do what we did when they installed these things in our break room for no reason. Just jerk the god damn thing off the wall. Find its blind spot, sneak in there, and break the god damn thing. We did that to 3 of the fuckers and they got the message.

Of course this is highly illegal and if you get caught, you'll get fired and send to jail. In this case I don't know you and I didn't write this. I'll denigh it till my dieing day.

Re:Safely approach? (2)

nahdude812 (88157) | more than 8 years ago | (#14881877)

Less destructive but just as effective is the use of spray snow (might be hard to find outside of the holidays). Or if they are happy to come clean it off every 30 minutes, then use something a bit more aggressive such as spray adhesive.

Plus you'll have a good idea of how aggressively you're being watched by how quickly they show up to fix it. If it goes for days before anyone notices, at least you'll know you're not being watched, just recorded. If they walk into the room 5 minutes later, then you know they're actively watching your every move.

I wonder if there's any small devices which can play back a static image on a CC loop if physically intercepting the cable.

Re:Safely approach? (1)

failedlogic (627314) | more than 8 years ago | (#14879664)

Besides the spying part, I don't understand (its office policitics, I know) the reasoning for 'safely' approaching your employer. I don't think its fair to say that because someone disagrees with a policy and points it out nicely, they should be afraid of losing their job or having it noted on a file. We live in a world where the idiot who thought of installing the CCTV sans employee permission is -allowed- to keep their job.

Re:Safely approach? (2, Insightful)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14879707)

Actually, in the environment where:

the idiot who thought of installing the CCTV sans employee permission is -allowed- to keep their job.

then the complainer about the policy is FAR more likely to

be afraid of losing their job or having it noted on a file.

Because the company has already proven that it doesn't look at workers as people- but only as resources to be managed.

Re:Safely approach? (1)

fuzzybunny (112938) | more than 8 years ago | (#14881268)

You've obviously never worked for an English manager, I tell you man, those bastards are ruthless :-)

Re:Safely approach? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14879683)

just what I was thinking (but my version had less profanity!)

1) send a letter to the manager, copied to your MP and the registrars for the DPA, etc.
2) get sacked
3) sue for unfair dismissal
4) never work again!!?

Re:Safely approach? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14882023)

Am I the only one who thinks that an anonymous tip is a good idea here? If it's a criminal act (and my understanding of the UK DPA is that this would be the case), the police might certainly act on an anonymous but credible phone call.

Of course, as always, HIRING A SOLICITOR is a good idea.

A wise man once wrote.. (5, Funny)

phozz bare (720522) | more than 8 years ago | (#14879283)

It is said: Go not to the Slashdotters for counsel, for they will say both no and yes.

(with apologies to Tolkien)

Re:A wise man once wrote.. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14879350)

> It is said: Go not to the Slashdotters for counsel, for they will say both no and yes.
>
>(with apologies to Tolkien)

Ask not the Slashdotters for counsel, for they will say that in Soviet Russia, North Korea and Japan, you will only email old people both "yes" and "no". And that Natalie Portman, naked and petrified, in hot grits... may not be soggy, but she sure tastes good with ketchup.

(with apologies to GNU/Tolkien)

Oh, and CCTV? Don't worry about it. CCTV is dead. [netcraft.blogspot.com]

I think that about covers all the base that are belo*WHAM WHAM WHAM*
NO CARRIER

Re:A wise man once wrote.. (1)

conJunk (779958) | more than 8 years ago | (#14887408)

you forgot Poland

Obey your Urges (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14879289)

Life is like frost. A complex pattern that has formed from simpler elements (atoms). There is no purpose to life, however, we have evolved to be happiest when we are satisfying our biological urges (by definition).

...what do other Slashdot readers think should be the next step for my friend...

That depends on what is most likely to satisfy her biological urges. If she has a strong biological urge to take a "principled but suicidal stand" then that is what she should do but otherwise she should focus on satisfying her other biological urges.

Re:Obey your Urges (0, Offtopic)

edward.virtually@pob (6854) | more than 8 years ago | (#14879548)

Just wanted to remark that this comment is not offtopic. Mismoderators suck.

Re:Obey your Urges (1)

HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) | more than 8 years ago | (#14879843)

See my sig.

Re:Obey your Urges (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14879844)

Some people feel good (satisfy a biological urge) when they stand up to injustice and feel like they are making the world a better place. Other people feel good (satisfy a biological urge) when they do something purely selfish (like increasing their chances of getting into heaven).

Because there is no purpose to life, each person might as well do what makes them feel good - bearing in mind that many people actually feel best when they are helping others. The point being, act in accordance with your values - whatever they are.

Just ran across this, in the bigger context - UK (-1, Troll)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 8 years ago | (#14879290)

Traffic Surveillance Cameras To Monitor Personal Behavior
Orwell's telescreens arrive in Britain

Not satisfied with over 4 million CCTV cameras already spying on British citizens, the government is now floating proposals to turn the country's 14,000 speed cameras on drivers to monitor their personal habits.

The London Guardian reports,

"Mr Gifford said expanding the use of technology for tracking the movements of cars could lead police to people who had committed other offences in the same way that Al Capone was eventually caught through his income tax evasion. He claimed that for greater safety and "the greater good of society", most people would be prepared to accept "a slight reduction of our liberty"."

As we have warned, the agenda of the expansion of surveillance cameras is not just because the government wants to record your actions.

The fundamental goal is to ram it down people's throats to the point whereby they think they are constantly under suspicion 24 hours a day, resulting in the self-regulation of behavior, a self-imposed prison without bars.

This helps mould a repressed society that shrinks from asking questions, protesting and demanding answers from its government. It redefines the very nature of the intended function of government, to act as a servant to the people. We the people are supposed to watch government like hawk, not the other way around. The abuses of the state throughout history, killing 200 million in the last century alone, have always massively outweighed any threat to the fabric of society from crime, which in itself is largely a product of the state's action.

The blanket smoking ban and ASBO legislation also send the message, we are your bosses, you are the children and you better play nicely because Big Brother is watching at all times.

The age of the telescreen is upon us as surveillance cameras that festoon our streets, shopping malls and airports are now moving into our private homes as the panopticon prison is erected.

The surveillance cameras are there to make a statement. We are the prison guards, you are the prisoners.

As George Orwell described it in 1984,

"The telescreen received and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it, moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard."

"There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live -- did live, from habit that became instinct -- in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized."

This is the prison without bars. This is the panopticon, a prison so constructed that the inspector can see each of the prisoners at all times, without being seen. This is a portrait of the accelerating movement by western governments to erect giant, powerful, all-pervading mass surveillance, tracking and control grids that will keep all populations firmly under the baleful and watchful gaze of Big Brother.

Liberty, the group supposedly tasked with defending privacy rights in the UK, revealed itself to be a shill of the establishment in refusing to oppose the measures.

Re:Just ran across this, in the bigger context - U (5, Informative)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 8 years ago | (#14879923)

This wasn't published by any "London Guardian" paper. You guys that modded this up to +5, Informative got trolled.

The original article, published by The Guardian, is here [guardian.co.uk] . Note the distinct lack of accusations of being "shills for the establishment". Note the distinct lack of any mention whatsoever of blanket smoking bans, ASBOs, or putting cameras in people's homes. That paranoid speculation comes from here [prisonplanet.com] . A website so credible, its main sections are: Occult Elite | Loss Of Freedom | Scams & Cover-ups | Vote Fraud | World Government | Political Murders | Geopolitics. This is kook fodder, guys!

There is no blanket smoking ban in the UK. There will be a ban on smoking in pubs and restaraunts in Scotland very soon. Tobacco is still legal, you just can't smoke in public where people are eating and drinking.

ASBOs are Anti-Social Behaviour Orders. Basically, you can be punished for anti-social behaviour. For instance, kids who repeatedly throw bricks through their neighbours' windows. Not so scary when it's not a meaningless acronym, is it?

The age of the telescreen is upon us as surveillance cameras that festoon our streets, shopping malls and airports are now moving into our private homes as the panopticon prison is erected.

More nonsense. The UK government aren't installing cameras in anybody's homes. Not that this guy would know that - this uninformed nonsense comes not from a British source, as is claimed, but an American worried about the Occult Elite World Government.

Liberty, the group supposedly tasked with defending privacy rights in the UK, revealed itself to be a shill of the establishment in refusing to oppose the measures.

Maybe they can't oppose the measures because they exist solely as paranoid delusions. I'll admit that CCTV is widespread in the UK, but the things that this article claims are happening simply aren't. And the thing that set this guy off on his rant? It's a proposal, as the Guardian article makes clear. It is by no means law yet. I quote:

Tomorrow's transport committee session and a further meeting next week will examine how far this technology can be expanded and what use can be made of the data. Evidence will be presented by bodies representing the police and organisations that campaign on road safety.

Any attempt to widen the application of camera surveillance is likely to be strongly resisted.

Re:Just ran across this, in the bigger context - U (1)

magefile (776388) | more than 8 years ago | (#14880040)

ASBOs are Anti-Social Behaviour Orders. Basically, you can be punished for anti-social behaviour. For instance, kids who repeatedly throw bricks through their neighbours' windows. Not so scary when it's not a meaningless acronym, is it?

Most of your post is dead on, but ... what was wrong with the old system where we punished things like destruction of property, vandalism, and so on? I mean, ASBO covers a lot of things, the vast majority of which are already taken care of by one law or another, right? Call me paranoid, but I want my laws to be clear and specific.

How bad things already are in the UK (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 8 years ago | (#14880211)

I realise one has to keep these things in perspective, but you're spectacularly missing the point in some of these cases.

The insidious thing about ASBOs is that they allow the creation and punishment of new crimes without parliamentary or even judicidial oversight. An ASBO can say more-or-less anything, and breaking an ASBO can carry heavy prison sentence, even if the act prohibited by the ASBO carries no such sentence in law.

Smoking in bars, pubs and even private members' clubs in England will shortly be illegal under recently-passed legislation.

The road camera tracking network is going live any day now, by the admission of senior police officers involved. It has neither needed nor received any parliamentary oversight until the issue was raised recently, since previous legislation was so broad that the police could just go ahead and impose the most pervasive surveillance system in human history without so much as a by-your-leave. No doubt some MPs and probably the Information Commissioner will kick up more of a fuss when the issue finally hits the papers big-time, but by then it will, as ever, be too late.

Seriously, these things are happening, and they do have more than sinister overtones. Did you realise that an act is quietly going through Parliament that will allow ministers, without any further recourse to Parliament nor any vote of MPs, to impose major new legislation, including several of the things that have recently been strongly opposed in both houses? Several professors of Law at Cambridge University recently wrote to a national newspaper expressing their dismay at this turn of events and their support for Cambridge MP David Howarth's challenge against it, but other than that, even the mainstream media appears not to have noticed.

At current rates (i.e., with the proposals currently proceeding through Parliament passing into law on the expected timetable, and based on current or announced intent in the use of the laws by the relevant authorities) the following will be true in the UK by 2010:

  • Anyone walking in the street may be stopped by a police officer, searched, and their property confiscated.
  • Anyone walking in the street may be arrested by a police officer, taken to a police station, held without charge for up to 28 days (and they're pushing for 90 again), and have their DNA and other biometric information forcibly collected and added to a national database, there to remain in perpetuity even if they are released without charge.
  • Anyone walking in the street may be moved on by a police officer, even if they have committed no offence.
  • Anyone wanting to get a passport will be required to submit biometric information to that same National Identity Register (though of course, ID cards aren't going to be mandatory yet -- you don't have to get a passport -- unless you want to travel anywhere, that is).
  • All members of the public will be tracked almost anywhere in public they go, via CCTV, the road camera network, and other surveillance mechanisms. (These mechanisms will conveniently be off-line for maintenance in the event that the police decide to detain hundreds of civilians illegally for several hours during a prominent but entirely legal protest. Unless it's outside the Houses of Parliament, in which case such protests are no longer legal and the citizens can be arrested.)
  • All communications providers will be required, at their own expense, to record the nature of the activities of all of their customers, and to turn this information over to the authorities on demand. Any personal computer equipment owned by any suspected individuals may be confiscated without any charge being brought, and failure to disclose the password to access any information the authorities suspect to be on that equipment, regardless of whether any such information and password exist, will be a criminal offence carrying a penalty of several years in prison.
  • Government officials who are not even directly elected may declare any area a disaster area. Having done so, they may then take a variety of actions including requiring or restricting movement, restricting freedom of association, confiscation of property with or without compensation, and a variety of other equally unsavoury possibilities.
  • Ministers in certain positions will be able to legislate on executive authority, without further scrutiny by the elected representatives of the people.

I could go on, but really, exactly how far down this slope do we have to get before people wake up?

I suspect the only way we're going to undo the current mess is to form a proper, written constitution enumerating things like the right to reasonable privacy, the right to be secure from unreasonable search and seizure, etc. and the creation of a constitutional court that can actually strike down legislation that is held unconstitutional and/or order the government of the day to review legislation that is found after judicial review to fall on the wrong side of the constitutional lines. If only any political party had the guts to do it...

Re:How bad things already are in the UK (2, Interesting)

(negative video) (792072) | more than 8 years ago | (#14881336)

An ASBO can say more-or-less anything, and breaking an ASBO can carry heavy prison sentence, even if the act prohibited by the ASBO carries no such sentence in law.
And didn't I hear that They are trying to give Themselves the option of sending a "super nanny" in to live with offending families, to retrain their behavior along socially-correct lines?
I suspect the only way we're going to undo the current mess is to form a proper, written constitution enumerating things like the right to reasonable privacy ...
Perhaps. The experience here in America has been that "rights" can be twisted to mean anything, that what really matters is that the people have the backbone to stand up for themselves. Or to put it conversely, people get the government they deserve, and they get it good and hard. Unfortunately, the UK seems to have a collective spine of jello. Things seem likely to get much, much worse before they get better.

Re:How bad things already are in the UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14887244)

I suspect the only way we're going to undo the current mess is to form a proper, written constitution enumerating things like the right to reasonable privacy, the right to be secure from unreasonable search and seizure, etc. and the creation of a constitutional court that can actually strike down legislation that is held unconstitutional and/or order the government of the day to review legislation that is found after judicial review to fall on the wrong side of the constitutional lines. If only any political party had the guts to do it...

Indeed that may be necesary. As a citizen of these once great United States, however, I regret to inform you that it still may not be sufficient.

Just have a mucky number plate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14881676)

I notice more cars with number plates that are so muddy that they won't be tracked by these automatic tracking systems. Perhaps having a muddy numberplate is the new terrorism.

fake! - it's the Manchester, not London, Guardian (1)

fantomas (94850) | more than 8 years ago | (#14881710)

I think you're quoting a fake article - because it's the Manchester Guardian, not the London Guardian. See wikipedia [wikipedia.org] for more: "Until 1959 it was called The Manchester Guardian, reflecting its provincial origins; the paper is still occasionally referred to by this name, especially in North America, although it has been based in London since 1964 (with printing facilities in both Manchester and London)."


Link to your source please?


I work from home... (4, Informative)

noopy (959768) | more than 8 years ago | (#14879328)

... so if they have secret cameras, they, well... ... they keep paying me;-)

a safe approach (1)

sumday (888112) | more than 8 years ago | (#14879334)

speak softly and carry a big stick

- theodore roosevelt

Forget talking at this point... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14879423)

... small cameras are so cheap nowadays that the cost should be inconsequential to most IT workers. Time to start watching the watchers. That's where "they" want things. They watch you to get on dirt on you, you watch them to get on dirt on them.

I'm sure plenty will reply decrying this idea, but I know that I'm not alone among the people who have the ability and the means to do this. I think everyone should do this. You'd be surprised how quickly management can get turned off on the idea of cameras after a few high profile cases of upper management getting taken down by employees filming their dirty deeds as their way of saying "thank you for spying on me".

Re:Forget talking at this point... (1)

rholliday (754515) | more than 8 years ago | (#14879549)

Would upper management be "taken down" by this procedure, though? More likely the employee would be fired, as this sounds illegal.

Unless you're suggesting blackmail. But I don't think that would work very well, either. Not everyone's boss commits illegal/immoral activities at their desk.

Re:Forget talking at this point... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14879599)

Would upper management be "taken down" by this procedure, though?

How many of us are there that reads this story on slashdot. Say half of those people did this, out of that number, how many do you think have upper management engaged in illegal activities?

More likely the employee would be fired, as this sounds illegal.

Well, of course you would want to discuss whatever you do with a lawyer before taking my advice. Ahem.

But just imagine if videos were released anonymously on the net that included management of big name companies doing very bad things. Who are they going to fire?

But this would no doubt be very illegal for anyone who got caught doing this. Yes, I would definetly not want to GET CAUGHT doing this.

Re:Forget talking at this point... (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 8 years ago | (#14879892)

Time to start watching the watchers.

So block the view of the camera with another camera pointed back at it?

Proper Reactions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14879347)

Rather than calmly contacting Human Resources and enquiring about it, and possibly mention the need or desire for a formal policy, I recommend instead some fast knee movements, gesticulation, and uninformed reactionary vocalization.

Re:Proper Reactions (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#14879457)

Nahhhhhh, you don't wanna go to all that much trouble, just contact goldenpalace.com and let them know about a wonderful advertising opportunity.

I'm sure they would pay you $$$$$ to go to work in a special tshirt or something.

What I would do (5, Insightful)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14879349)

A series of anonymous e-mails, one a week, to the controlling manager. The first should be just a warning that the camera may be illegal. The second should contain the relevant portion of the law. The third should be a threat of potential legal action. The fourth should be the relevant portion of the law, cc'd to the authorities. The fifth should be the relevant portion of the law, cc'd to the supervisor of the authorities. The sixth should be the relevant portion of the law, cc'd to the appropriate Member of Parliment and the supervisor of the authorities. If six weeks go by without any action, then the anonymous and safe portion of being a whistle blower is at an end- and your friend should consult an attorney in defense of civil rights.

Of course, it goes without saying that if at any point, a change in workplace behavior with respect to the use of CCTV cameras is noticed, you have to start the whole sequence over.

Re:What I would do (1)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 8 years ago | (#14879983)

A series of anonymous e-mails, one a week, to the controlling manager.

Anonymous emails might not be so anonymous. Lots of people I've worked with in the past have had... let's say, "unique attitudes" to spelling and grammar that I could identify them by even if there was no name attached. You might want to run emails like that through Babelfish twice.

Re:What I would do (3, Funny)

Myria (562655) | more than 8 years ago | (#14881286)

When I write emails that I want to be anonymous, I mostly just degrade the quality of writing. I start imitating the people on video game forums. I normally write quite well and it always confuses people if they find out it was me.

Melissa

Re:What I would do (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14883846)

I'd agree with that idea- in fact such e-mails should probably be short and to the point. Dispassionate without emotion.

Data Protection Registrar (5, Informative)

EvilMagnus (32878) | more than 8 years ago | (#14879353)

Just report it anonymously to the DPA. They do follow up on these things, you know. Even for things like keeping names and addresses in Excel spreadsheets, let alone cctv cameras.

Re:Data Protection Registrar (4, Informative)

cmdrbuzz (681767) | more than 8 years ago | (#14879448)

Just report it anonymously to the DPA.
Sound advice. Part of my job can involve collecting information for an investigation within the Bank, without the subject being aware that we are looking at what they are doing.

However it is all detailed that the Bank *may* carry out Special Investigations should the need arise, in the employee handbook and with the DPA.
If we run afoul of the DPA we are in BIG trouble and would expect an internal smackdown, not to mention the external repercussions.

You have to ask, if the company are willing to break the law with regard to the DPA, what else are they doing?

Workplace CCTV Monitoring (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14879387)

And right this moment I'm watching the first few minutes of Resident Evil.

I hope workplace CCTV monitoring doesn't get used how it does there...

IANAL (4, Informative)

HoosierPeschke (887362) | more than 8 years ago | (#14879464)

In the US, it is illegal to have CCTV in the workplace without a posted notice. If you have a union you should bring it up with them. I recently went through a Labor Relations course where we when through various cases and I distinctly remembering a company being in trouble for having a CCTV system without notice.

The Act is called the National Labor Relations Act, you should see if you have something similar. More info on different cases can be found here [nlrb.gov] .

Re:IANAL (1)

ThomaMelas (631856) | more than 8 years ago | (#14879581)

I love how half memories become incorrect blanket statements. There are some places in which the courts have ruled that putting cameras may be illegal. Breakrooms and Bathrooms in particular. But courts have also stated that you can place cameras in a bathroom if you have reasonable belief that illegal actions are occuring in them. Note that this is for video only recording. Audio recording falls under more stringent laws and on that you should consult a lawyer.

Re:IANAL (1)

HoosierPeschke (887362) | more than 8 years ago | (#14879805)

I'm not sure how you construed my post as a half memory because I didn't say anything that cameras are always legal so long as a notice is posted but I appreciate the clarification for others who may view. I wasn't considering private areas such as bathrooms. My statement was that in the US, if an employer utilizes a CCTV system in the workplace, they must post notices and inform the employees.

I found that NLRB case here [nlrb.gov] . Look at the AnheuserBusch case.

After a little more research, I discover this [brickhousesecurity.com] and this [epic.org] . Not the definitive sources on the matter but an interesting read. Going back to my previous post to the author, consult your union if you're allowed one.

'Laws' Are Made To Be Broken (1)

Halvy (748070) | more than 8 years ago | (#14879515)


Over the thick sculls of the fools who MAKE BELIEVE they are the authorities over all of us!!

This includes most CEO's who now calmly partake in this war against the individual.

The most asinine remark by them is:

"WELL!!.. IF you don't have anything to hide, then why worry about us watching your EVERY move!?!"..

Needs to be answered as such:

Well Mr. Legal STALKER, IF I am NOT doing anything wrong, AND I am 'presumed' innocent-- until proven guilty..

THEN WHAT THE HELL GIVES YOU THE RIGHT TO STALK ME!!!".

Eh hem.. excuse me folks :)

-- SORRY!! But I am still a PROUD member of SlashDot :)

Re:'Laws' Are Made To Be Broken (4, Funny)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14879618)

The cameras are pretty cheap. Buy one (or even one of those "fake" dummy cameras), bring it to work, and mount it in their washroom. You don't have to connect it to anything. Stick a $1 antenna on it - look. ma - wireless toilet-cam.

If you can get a group together to buy 3 real cameras with wireless transmitters, label them Cam1, Cam3, and Cam6 and mount them, then watch the show. When they're found, they'll go nuts trying to find Cam2, Cam4 and Cam5. Just remember to wear gloves while handling everything.

one word (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14879524)

magnetron

Re:one word (4, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14879780)

  1. wire snippers are cheaper, easier to hide.

  2. laser pointers are cheaper, more fun.

  3. nail polish remover will frost over the protective dome

  4. vaseline will make it look like the ccd has gone bad

  5. if its 2.4 ghz wireless, its a 4 channel unit. Find out which channel its sending, and broadcast a movie on the same frequency, but closer to the receiver. The transmitters aren't that expensive - just hook the dvd out to the transmitter in - no camera needed. To find the actual frequency, plug the receiver into a cheap hand-held portable tv.

  6. grape juice in a water pistol, or a can of coke shaken, then "accidently" opened just under it, work wonders for a temporary blind

  7. find the power source once you've temporarily blinded it (some use wall-warts, some use a 12 volt feeder wire) and give it 120 volts

  8. look around for a microphone. Some units have the mike built in, some use a separate microphone. Cut the microphone and attach a dozen feet of crappy unshielded audio cable. Nothing more annoying than picking up spanish AM radio broadcasts when you're trying to spy on someone

  9. again, find the microphone, and start telling outrageous lies about how you accidently walked in on one of the managers playing with a penis pump, or you saw them in a restaurant having supper with someone you KNOW works for the competition (have a receipt on hand for your own meal at the restaurant as "evidence" that it actually took place - you can "prove" you were there).

  10. the cam leads usually go into a dvr. The dvr has 1 or more boards, with 4 to 8 a/v processors per board. tap into the video feed and throw some low-amperage AC into the circut. If you get lucky, you can fry the computer, not just the board. If you can tap into 2 camera feeds, then you can connect the core of each feed to opposite sides of your AC circuit - one amp should do it. Much more than that will melt the wires on the pig-tail used to connect the cams to the boards.

Re:one word (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14880895)

Or try pushing a strait pin through the communication line (short the wires together). Cut off both ends with your wire cutters and watch them fight for hours trying to find the problem.

Surely (-1, Troll)

JustOK (667959) | more than 8 years ago | (#14879537)

If they're using linux to run the cam, everything would be ok, right?

Re:Surely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14879771)

Yep, exactly right.

Thanks for playing.

Do them a favour (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14879556)

Why not do them a favour and post your own signage and privacy policy? Post small signs around the office:

"You may be under video surveilance while you work. No privacy policy is available."

If they try to take the signs down, repost them. You wouldn't want your employer to get into trouble, after all.

-Kell

Re:Do them a favour (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14879947)

Find or make some appropriate signs, put double-sided tape on the back so they're ready to be stuck to the wall, slap a little note "Post near entrances", and mail it to the building maintenance staff. Everyone is likely to think it was authorized by someone, rather than someone helping out by not bothering everyone with endless meetings on the subject. It's guerilla law enforcement or social engineering.

Re:Do them a favour (1)

timmyf2371 (586051) | more than 8 years ago | (#14880234)

That would cause more problems than it would solve, mainly from the point of view that management might not take very kindly to an employee not doing things by the book and "speaking up when something's wrong".

It wouldn't solve the legal issue either; in accordance with the DPA, any CCTV scheme must have signs stating the name of the operator and a contact telephone number - anything less isn't enough.

In this sort of situation, I'd approach my line manager in the first instance. If no action was taken within a reasonable timeframe, I'd email my concerns directly to my employer's Data Protection Officer. However, I do note that the original poster mentioned internal politics as a reason why this course of action may be inappropriate. I do sympathise with that situation having been there myself in a previous job. In this case, I'd probably contact the Data Protection Registrar directly and report the DPA breach anonymously.

It may not be that illegal (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14879600)

Students' personal stuff was being stolen from their homeroom lab. They put in a couple of covert cameras and caught one of the janitors. They turned the video over to security and the janitor was sacked. The security chief (an ex police inspector) then suggested that maybe the class should have a lecture on the legality of what they had done. There was no hint that their taping was illegal. The lecture was mostly about the conditions they had to meet for the video to be accepted as evidence in a court of law.

Depends on the employer (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14879623)

Would your friend say that they're a generally "good" employer? Would she want to keep working there? There's always the risk that her name could be made public, despite her wishes, during any action.

If you want advice, somewhere like the Citizen's Advice Bureau or her Trades Union (taking along any relevant contract of employment) would be a good starting point. Depending on what a workplace CCTV camera is actually doing and (most importantly) what the company has said that it is doing with the data the company may or may not be abiding by the data protection act or not. Even if they aren't now, a simple declaration may be all it takes to abide by the law (with the camera staying, which may not be what your friend wants). The ICO would be a useful organisation to contact but (from experience) not until you've definitely got a case.

If you want someone who's likely to campaign on your behalf, try "Liberty" (http://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/ [liberty-hu...hts.org.uk] ). People have certainly made interesting use of the 1998 act (see http://www.fnord.demon.co.uk/mt/fifth/cctv.html [demon.co.uk] ).. .

Another possibility, although a bit of a long shot, would be the Human Rights Act (http://www.opsi.gov.uk/ACTS/acts1998/19980042.htm [opsi.gov.uk] ). It's pretty vague in places, and while it's unlikely that said cameras interfere with e.g. "... the right to respect for his private and family life ..." it might be worth reading.

The usual caveats apply - I'm not a lawyer, but have been involved with the deployment in a camera system at a former employer in the past, and was involved with the discussions as to legal requirements (then under the 1984 act) re data retention policy and security, and later of the effects of the 1998 act (on non-camera data).

Quiet annoyance (1)

lucm (889690) | more than 8 years ago | (#14879676)

If you suspect that your company is doing something against the law, it is your duty to raise the issue with your boss. You can refer him to the section 12.1 ("Comply with legal requirements") of the ISO recommended information security practices (ISO/IEC 17799). But be sure that there is wrongdoing; as an example, in Canada you are free to put secret cameras in the workplace as long as you can demonstrate in court that you are protecting equipments and not watching specifically someone. It is much trickier if there is audio involved.

Once you have raised the issue, if your boss explains that the cameras are there for a general security purpose, then it is up to you to evaluate if you are comfortable with the situation; you may stay and be annoyed, or leave. But if your boss does not acknowledge the issue, or if his behavior is not acceptable, walk away from this place.

In both case you should not involve the authorities, unless you feel that there is something very, very wrong. Revenge and bitterness are pointless and might just come in your way someday.

As for the cameras themselves, I think it is a big investment for what it is worth. The company must deal with storage and handling of the media (tape or DVD); if any incident occur they must go back in time, search for a while, then hope the picture is clear, and in most case it will have no value in court. It's a lot of annoyance for little ROI. But anyway I don't mind being on camera myself, as long as pictures of me spilling coffee in the fax server don't get on "America's Funniest Videos".

Re:Quiet annoyance (3, Informative)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14879849)

he company must deal with storage and handling of the media (tape or DVD); if any incident occur they must go back in time, search for a while, then hope the picture is clear, and in most case it will have no value in court. It's a lot of annoyance for little ROI. But anyway I don't mind being on camera myself, as long as pictures of me spilling coffee in the fax server don't get on "America's Funniest Videos".

Todays setups are much better. Motion and alarm triggers, a decent-sized (705x480) picture, 25 frames per second, with audio, viewable in real time and searchable over any network or the internet. Infrared cams that will pick you out in the dark when you can't see your hand in front of your face (they're fun to experiment with - they use infrared LEDs to light up stuff up to 30 feet away as bright as day). Easily searchable, and you can store up to a year if you don't mind setting up a JBOD. A couple of terrabyes of storage isn't that expensive any more, and mp4s don't take up nearly as much space as you'd think.

What about web cameras? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14879709)

Our office installed a linksys web camera (http://tinyurl.com/pxnpv [tinyurl.com] ), and while its not CCTV its functionally equivilent, since this can be viewed over a web server on the device by anyone. What rules in the united states would apply to this?

Surveillance Cameras in the Workplace (4, Insightful)

solid_liq (720160) | more than 8 years ago | (#14879759)

In 2000-2001 I worked for a company developing software for streaming digital surveillance video. While working there, I learned a little something about the laws regarding surveillance cameras. In the US, at least, it is legal to take pictures and/or video of civilians, so long as sound is not included, without the consent of the individuals being photographed/recorded on video. At that time, the British laws were even more invasive regarding privacy of individuals. I had the opportunity to see video from some of the cameras on the light poles on the streets of London, and was amazed to see that some of the cameras even had clear views into peoples' bedrooms. Whether the cameras are in the workplace, a store (which is still someone's workplace), or facing outside, the law does permit this kind of surveillance to take place. If there is a microphone attached to the camera, however, then the surveillance may be illegal.

That said, no one likes cameras pointed at them at work. At one point while developing the software, I had several cameras pointed at me for testing purposes. Once the software was far enough along, a coworked informed that me he liked those cameras pointing at me because it allowed him to view the video feeds to see if I was at my desk before making the walk to the other side of the office to talk to me. Needless to say, I repositioned the cameras after he told me this to point towards my coworkers in my section of the office. Of course, my coworkers weren't too happy with me for doing this. My boss, however, did like it until I pointed one of the cameras at his office door.

To make a long story short, no one likes a video camera pointed at them at work, but unfortunately the law does allow it.

Re:Surveillance Cameras in the Workplace (1)

schotty (519567) | more than 8 years ago | (#14885462)

Thanks for the clarification. I could have sworn up and down that as long as it is considered public, that (in the US) video surveillance was kosher. Any bathroom/lockerroom cams needed to have consent forms.

The audio part was an interesting part. It now seems right, but wasnt blatant prior to your post (to me at least).

My $0.02 (1)

robyannetta (820243) | more than 8 years ago | (#14879783)

Why not give them something to actually watch?

> The finger
> Obscene T-shirt
> The "moon"
> Bring in your spouse and do "spousal" things

Make them feel as if it's a good investment.

Re:My $0.02 (1)

robyannetta (820243) | more than 8 years ago | (#14879800)

Damn, I forgot to list...

> Invite Stewie Griffin over for a "sexy party"

Re:My $0.02 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14880111)

> Invite Stewie Griffin over for a "sexy party"

You're a sick, sick person.

Reverse the roles (1)

firehawk2k (310855) | more than 8 years ago | (#14879817)

I think she should install her own CCTV at her cubicle, aimed at her employer's desk.
If her employer has nothing to hide, then he/she has nothing to worry about!

Two can play at that game!

Well.. (3, Informative)

rabbitfood (586031) | more than 8 years ago | (#14879853)

The quickest start would be to go to the information commissioner's website (http://www.esd.informationcommissioner.gov.uk/ [informatio...ner.gov.uk] and see if your employer is registered to process employee data. Chances are they might be. If they're not, then you've got them. Failing that, they should (though it is not a legal requirement) comply with the codes of practice (http://tinyurl.com/dlwqr [tinyurl.com] [www.ico.gov.uk]). The first paragraph of which points out that guidance on targeted surveillance of employees is 'forthcoming', so you might have to wait a bit if that's what you're worried about. If you're really impatient, you could report them to the Information Commissioner anyway. This is quite simple, and, providing you can prove (a) it is their intention to use captured images illicitly (b) pictures of you in an office constitute significant personal information and (c) that the cameras aren't be used for monitoring the 'security of the premises' or for 'public and employee safety', it would seem you've got a cast-iron case.

How do you think I feel? (2, Insightful)

thegrassyknowl (762218) | more than 8 years ago | (#14879917)

I work in a company that builds these things all day... there are cameras and microphones everywhere but there are also signs to that effect. Everything I do is recorded, and archived!

I would just politely ask the person who authorised the cameras (the boss?) why they think they need them and what they hope to achieve. They will come up with some crap excuse (they always do) that is based on some uninformed thing they read in some boss magazine.

Just push the issue politely until you demonstrate to them that spying on employees only demotivates them. If employees don't feel trusted then they won't be productive.

They do it to "stop" employees doing personal things on company time. The problem is that company time is the only time that other companies are open! Also, doing a few personal things over the day is a welcome break and refreshing. I work better when I can just do what I want; I get a lot more, better lines of code written with the freedom than I do with the authoritarian "thou shalt not..." directives.

Management here went through a phase of starting "thou shalt not.." and it was soon dropped when they realised that if they don't question what you are doing and only question the amount/quality of the end work they get better results.

Anywho, just point out to management the negatives of covert spying on employees and they might see the point. It's more likely given that they think they are "elite" that they will just ignore the employees as being dumb!

Similar Situation (4, Insightful)

GWBasic (900357) | more than 8 years ago | (#14879997)

I was in a similar situation awhile ago where an employer was breaking a US tax law. (Specifically, they were requiring I, an independant contractor, behave like an employee, which is highly illegal.) I printed the IRS's summary of the law, which described the horrible consequences that they could face, and handed it to my manager. A few days later they started to obey the law.

So, if there is a web site from your government agency that discusses the legality of such cameras in very simple terms, just have your friend print it out and leave it on a Manager's desk. She could also cover the camera with a printout of the law when no one is looking.

probably not 24/7 spying on you (1)

fred fleenblat (463628) | more than 8 years ago | (#14880373)

there's a good chance that there isn't anyone actually monitoring the cameras on a regular basis. that costs a lot of money.

if someone reports a crime of some sort, management or a security company might review the tapes (or DVR) for that location and time to help identify the suspect. the rest of the time you could probably be doing all kinds of crazy stuff and no human eyes would see it.

also i've seen office situations where there are several cameras around but only one or a few near the front door or elevators is actually hooked up to anything real. there are a lot of 4 or 8 camera setups so if you see 20+ domes scattered about most of them are dummies.

one thing you can do is make friends with the security guards. unless it's a casino they'll probably have no problem showing you their monitoring station and telling you what parts of the building are really monitored on a regular basis. if you see the women's bathroom you have a case. if you see an elevator bank and the parking lot, you can probably relax.

Whats the point of secret cameras? (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 8 years ago | (#14880389)

Isnt it far better for the employer to have an employee decide not to cary out an illegal action (e.g. stealing from the workplace, vising inappropriate websites etc) becase they know they are being watched than for the employee to cary out the action and get caught on a secret camera?

If you have the right cameras in the right place, you dont need to worry that the employee will somehow incapacitate the cameras or cary out actions when the camera is not pointing at them.

Tell them immediately, or face the consequences (1)

aminorex (141494) | more than 8 years ago | (#14880451)

If my employee discovered that I was unknowingly violating the law, and thus placing the business at risk, but did not promptly inform me, I would fire that person on the spot.

Re:Tell them immediately, or face the consequences (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14886179)

If my employee discovered that I was unknowingly violating the law, and thus placing the business at risk, but did not promptly inform me, I would fire that person on the spot.

Just how would you know that your employee(s) knew that you were unknowingly violating the law if they didn't tell you?

Common in the workplace? (4, Interesting)

Hulleye (126367) | more than 8 years ago | (#14881322)

I am just curious about how common it is for employers to monitor their staff. Recently, I discovered some spyware installed on all the machines in my organisation that takes screenshots of the desktop at ten-minute intervals in addition to logging keystrokes. (Activity Monitor from www.softactivity.com)

None of the employees were made aware of the fact that they would be monitored and this degree of intrusion has compromised personal information, passwords, bank accounts etc. This kind of websurfing has previously never been discouraged at our workplace.

The software comes with an easy uninstaller so i went ahead and uninstalled it from all the computers in my department. (The IT dept. subsequently came to "check" the computers in our dept. and i discovered the software had once again been installed on the machines) But the only reason I discovered it in the first place is that I randomly check what processes are running on my machine. Most people simply would not know to check for random or strange processes and the few people I have told about this don't really seem too bothered or surprised by the fact that the company is doing this.

This is an extremely underhanded way of keeping a check on your employees. Though I do not agree with this type of monitoring, it may have been acceptable had we been told from the very start that our computer usage would be monitored. Has anyone else had experience with their computers being monitored in this way?

 

Re:Common in the workplace? (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 8 years ago | (#14881794)

Might keylogging/screen monitoring run afoul of surveilence laws? I mean the whole point is you're being watched without being known.

I'd rather have a camera in the bathroom watching me than spyware on my PC recording everything I type. Including passwords and personal messages off of company time (lunch break, etc).

Re:Common in the workplace? (1)

schotty (519567) | more than 8 years ago | (#14885542)

Not to be a dick, but you should EXPECT your boss to be an invasive dick. It really is in their best interest.

Dont get me wrong, he (lets just assume its a he, but replace with a she if its a she) has no reason to sniff your bank accound login, data, or any other personal info. But when I was an admin, we knew where every employee was at all times. If an employee was on a site that was deemed "naughty" (yahoo games, msn games, porn (owner loved that shit), etc), I would walk over and tell them that surfing is to be done on break or at home, not on paid time.

Data Protection Act request (2, Informative)

welshie (796807) | more than 8 years ago | (#14882265)

If this is the UK (or elsewhere in the EU, which has broadly similar legislation).. Get your friend to serve their employer with a Data Protection Act request (no need to contact a lawyer), asking for all data pertaining to themselves and their movements recorded by the company. The person holding the data can charge a reasonable fee (no more than GBP 10, I seem to recall). This covers CCTV systems, computer records and paperwork. If nothing is forthcoming regarding the CCTV footage, report them to the Information Commissioner (see http://www.data-protection.gov.uk/ [data-protection.gov.uk] , there's plenty of good information there)

Why be adversarial? (3, Insightful)

JoeD (12073) | more than 8 years ago | (#14883208)

How about a simple "Hey, what's the deal with the camera?"

Re:Why be adversarial? (1)

schotty (519567) | more than 8 years ago | (#14885562)

That would be the polite and productive way ;D
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