Like most firms, we at Marcellus have also had to adopt Covid-safe measures such as taking additional space to implement social distancing as well as enforcing use of masks by imposing fines that would go to charity. Turns out there is a technological solution for monitoring usage of masks as well. Amazon’s AI based solution using security cameras can now let us know a lot of detail about staff and is now being trialled and made available at offices, stores and factories. The fascination of technology advancement aside, this piece talks about the already growing concerns about people’s right to privacy and how such technologies exacerbate these concerns.
“The AWS Panorama appliance plugs into internet protocol (IP) cameras – a standard type of digital video camera used by a huge range of companies on their sites.
It can automate inspection tasks, such as detecting manufacturing defects or tracking the movement of barcodes and labels.
But the tool can also be applied to people.
For example, in a retail shop, it could count the number of customers, track their movements and check the length of queues, Amazon has suggested.
….But privacy campaigners have raised concerns.
Remote working has already led to an increase in the use of software that checks up on employees, but Amazon’s new solution is focused on tracking people and products in factories, shops and other traditional workplaces.
…”In our report, we warn about the potentially negative effects that intrusive technology of this type can have on workers’ well-being, right to privacy, data protection rights and the right not be discriminated against.”
Polling suggested that workers were already concerned about CCTV cameras being used to monitor performance when they were supposed to have been installed for security, she said.
Silkie Carlo, director of privacy group Big Brother Watch, said automated monitoring of workplaces “rarely results in benefits for employees”.
“It’s a great shame that social distancing has been leapt on by Amazon as yet another excuse for data collection and surveillance,” she said.
Amazon has already faced scrutiny over how its warehouse employees are monitored. In September, a report from a US research group said Amazon used extensive worker surveillance to limit union organising activity. And the company has clashed with some of its employees who have accused it treating them “like robots”.
This week, Microsoft apologised for allowing individuals’ activity to be monitored by their employers through a “productivity score” designed to give high-level oversights.”

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