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Privacy faces risks in a technology-injected post-covid workplace

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Temperature checks, distance monitors, digital “passports”, health surveys, robotic cleaning and disinfection systems are being deployed in many workplaces looking to reopen.

Technology giants and start-ups offer solutions that include computer vision detection of wearable vital signs. This allows us to provide an app that shows the onset of Covid-19 early and tracks health indicators.

Salesforce and IBM are partnering on a “Digital Health Pass” that allows you to share vaccinations and health status on your smartphone.

Clear, a tech startup known for airport screening, has created its own health pass used by organizations such as the National Hockey League and MGM Resorts.

Fitbit, a wearable technology maker recently acquired by Google, has its own “Ready for Work” program that includes daily check-in using device data.

Fitbit equips approximately 1,000 NASA employees with wearables as part of a pilot program that requires them to log in daily using various health indicators tracked by the space agency.

Microsoft and insurance giant UnitedHealth have introduced the ProtectWell app, which includes a daily symptom screener, and Amazon has introduced a “distance assistant” in the warehouse to help employees maintain a safe distance.

In addition, a large coalition of technology companies and healthcare organizations is working on digital vaccination certificates. It can be used on smartphones to show evidence of Covid-19 inoculation.

-‘Blur the line’-

These systems allow employees to face screening even as they enter the lobby of the building and monitor elevators, corridors, and the entire workplace.

Darrell West, vice president of the Brookings Institution’s Think Tank Innovation Center, said the surveillance “blurred the line between people’s work and personal life.”

“It erodes years of medical privacy protection for many different workers.”

Last year’s report by consumer activist group Public Citizen identified at least 50 apps and technologies released during the pandemic as “sold as workplace monitoring tools to fight Covid-19.”

According to the report, some systems have gone as far as identifying people who may not have spent enough time in front of the sink to be aware of inadequate hand washing.

“The privacy breaches faced by workers are alarming, especially given that the effectiveness of these technologies to mitigate the Covid-19 epidemic has not yet been established,” the report said.

The group stated that there are clear rules for data collection and storage and that disclosure to employees should be improved.

-Delicate balance-

Forrest Briscoe, a professor of management and organization at Pennsylvania State University, said employers face a delicate balance when trying to keep their workplaces safe without compromising privacy.

Briscoe said there were good reasons and precedents for requesting proof of vaccination. However, these can be inconsistent with medical privacy regulations that restrict corporate access to employee health data.

“We don’t want employers to have access to that information for work-related decisions,” Briscoe said.

Bisco said that many employers rely on third-party technology vendors to handle surveillance, but there are risks.

“Using a third-party vendor keeps the data isolated,” he said.

“But for some companies, their business model involves collecting data and using it for monetizable purposes, which poses a risk to privacy.”

The global health crisis has led starters around the world to seek innovative ways to limit viral infections. Some of these products were exhibited at the 2021 Consumer Electronics Show.

Taiwan-based FaceHeart can be installed on a camera to measure vital signs contactlessly to screen for symptoms such as shortness of breath, high fever, dehydration, and elevated heart rate, which are early indicators of Covid-19. Demonstrated software.

Drone maker Draganfly introduced camera technology that can be used to alert people about social distance and detect changes in vital signs in people who may be an early indicator of Covid-19 infection.

According to the company, Misty Robotics’ programmable robots, also on display at CES, can be adapted as health check monitors and can also be designed to disinfect frequently used surfaces such as door handles. I can do it.

However, privacy researchers say there is a risk of over-reliance on technologies that may be unproven or inaccurate, such as trying to detect heat with an infrared camera among people on the move. Jay Stanley, an analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union, said.

“Employers have a legitimate interest in protecting the workplace and keeping their employees healthy in a pandemic situation,” said Stanley.

“But my concern is that employers use pandemics to collect and store information in a systematic way that goes beyond what is needed to protect their health.”

This story was published from the Wire Agency Feed without changing the text.

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