Dr Paul Bernal: Workplace surveillance doesn't just affect our life in work. It affects our rights in all kinds of ways. We have a right to a private life, we have a right to freedom of expression. When workplaces monitor our internet activity, they are in fact, in some ways, monitoring almost every other aspect of our life. And that has huge numbers of implications. You want to check your Facebook page during a tea break, you use your work computer to do so. And your employer is monitoring your internet activity. They're monitoring your social media activity. Employers quite often want to use surveillance so that they can stop whistleblowers.

If you're under surveillance, somebody should tell somebody about it. But the surveillance will make it harder for you to tell them about it, because that's one of the ways that surveillance is used, to try to identify potential whistleblowers. Surveillance provides what looks like evidence, though it may actually be shown in a way that really doesn't represent the real situation. Starting point is to know that they should be telling you if it's happening. Read your contract. If you're using a phone, on your workplace Wi Fi system, your Wi Fi, is likely to be monitored by your employer. So if you're going to do social media stuff, turn the Wi Fi off.

Use encrypted services if you can. One of the main effects of surveillance is to bring about fear. People might be afraid, for example, of joining a union because they think that their online union activity will be monitored by their employer who will find an excuse to sack them because they don't like unions, because unions stick up for the employees' rights.

Protections that we get from Europe are likely to be diminished, as a result of our leaving the European Union. This is likely to mean fewer protections both for workers and for privacy in general. That means that we need to be very wary. It's very important people understand that at times of political chaos, where there's a risk of politics getting more authoritarian, that before that happens, we need to assert our rights and put in as much as we can to protect them so that we have at least got something to fight for.
Young People

Is My Employer Spying On Me? (with Dr. Paul Bernal)

Published on 29 Nov 2019

Do you ever get the feeling like Big Brother is always watching you? It might not be you being paranoid, workplace surveillance is a thing!

We invited Dr Paul Bernal to talk to us about the risks and implications that arise when employers monitor our internet activity and what that means for our right to privacy and freedom of expression.

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