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Germany To Grant Privacy At the Workplace 450

Posted by samzenpus
from the snooping-on-your-lunch-break dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The German government is proposing a bill declaring that employees have an expectation of privacy at the workplace (translated article). Among other provisions, the bill would ban employers from surveilling their employees by cameras or logging and reading their emails. Also, potential employers would not be allowed to view an applicant's profile at Facebook or any other social network that hasn't actually been made for this purpose."
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Germany To Grant Privacy At the Workplace

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  • Response (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23, 2010 @01:09AM (#33337394)

    Good thing for German workers.

  • by SudoGhost (1779150) on Monday August 23, 2010 @01:09AM (#33337398)
    That would be like me saying I can't put a GPS on my car to keep tabs on where it goes when my son drives it. If you're on facebook at work when you should be working, I think the employer has a right to know about it. Also, no cameras? So they can't utilize technology, but they're still allowed to stand behind you and watch you work, right? The only difference between the two is the technology behind the first one.
  • Can't Log Emails? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jesseck (942036) on Monday August 23, 2010 @01:14AM (#33337422)
    This seems absurd... all my mail servers log employees' email every day. Even worse, my spam filters read the entire message to make sure it is acceptable- before allowing delivery to the employee. These privacy measures may sound great on paper, but not all will work. If IT cannot log emails, how do we troubleshoot email delivery problems? Of course, I may be taking this to the next level, completely ignoring the actual wording of the proposed law.
  • by SudoGhost (1779150) on Monday August 23, 2010 @01:19AM (#33337448)
    Apparently you've never seen red-light cameras.
  • by SudoGhost (1779150) on Monday August 23, 2010 @01:22AM (#33337468)
    Read the title of the post you replied to. It's THEIR computers. The equipment belongs to them. Me monitoring my computer is completely different than me monitoring your computer. Therefore...I don't see what you're getting at with you're sarcasm.
  • by D4C5CE (578304) on Monday August 23, 2010 @01:31AM (#33337514)
    ...enforcement (by understaffed Data Protection authorities which -a bit like the firemen of Fahrenheit 451- now even have to help "the other side" identity citizens who try to exercise their rights with respect to SWIFT snooping [heise.de]) if employers' intrusions of privacy (to that point that even surveillance cameras on the loo [spiegel.de] now need to be explicitly banned) in the jurisdiction that pretty much "invented" habeas data.

    Trouble is, by regulating lots of nitty-gritty details instead of a broad "Constitutional right"-style protection, one makes it even harder for the law to keep up with progress - while exposing the loopholes most clearly to those determined to use them with impunity.

    To quote Portalis, one of the masterminds behind the French Civil Code:

    Quoi que l'on fasse, les lois positives ne sauraient jamais entièrement remplacer l'usage de la raison naturelle dans les affaires de la vie. Les besoins d'une société sont si variés, la communication des hommes est si active, leurs intérêts sont si multipliés, et leurs rapports si étendus, qu'il est impossible au législateur de pourvoir à tout.

  • by martin-boundary (547041) on Monday August 23, 2010 @01:40AM (#33337550)
    I don't really see what you're trying to get at? All the employer has to do is block access to FB urls, and then they don't have to monitor the employee's FB activities at all.

    Spying is simply not needed to keep employees focused on the job.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23, 2010 @01:43AM (#33337570)

    In Germany "LAW states you cannot go over the limit." in this case limit being you can't spy on employees. You will still know who is doing their jobs because they will get shit done while the others post stupid messages on slashdot. You most likely can still forbid them from using facebook, you just can't spy on them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23, 2010 @01:48AM (#33337590)

    Trust is one of the things you cannot enforce by spying on your employees. And trust is something you need if you want your company to be successful and/or your employees being happy. There are a million better ways to check if they get their work done.

  • by drsmithy (35869) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .yhtimsrd.> on Monday August 23, 2010 @01:53AM (#33337612)

    But not being able to check if the person is doing the work they get payed to do, is just stupid.

    Traditionally, this was done by people called "managers", who decided on things like "goals" the employee had to meet to be considered "productive".

  • Reasonable Rights (Score:3, Insightful)

    by andersh (229403) on Monday August 23, 2010 @02:00AM (#33337650)

    Your literal intepretation is unreasonable and silly.

    The whole point is to avoid unreasonable monitoring. If the primary purporse of a camera is to monitor employees actions it would illegal.

    However a camera installed to monitor the work place for safety reasons (such as a bank) would be perfectly legal.

    The purpose and coverage area would determine the legality, and remember the employer would not be the one to decide the legality (or if the supposed "purpose" is in fact in violation of the law).

  • by pentalive (449155) on Monday August 23, 2010 @02:03AM (#33337654) Journal
    Why don't you just let them do what they will during the 14-16 hours they sit in your chair. Instead of micromanaging their minutes give them set tasks and goals they they must complete. "Keep your PO list down to 3 at the end of the day", "Handle all your tickets withing a 5 hour time frame (or whatever the SLA says it should be)" or "Get the new server built, configured and online within 3 days"
  • by xnpu (963139) on Monday August 23, 2010 @02:19AM (#33337720)
    How about we judge you on your performance instead? E.g. customer retention, sales, or whatever is suitable for your role. I wouldn't care if my top sales guy is on facebook all day, he would still be my top sales guy.
  • by melmut (968751) on Monday August 23, 2010 @02:23AM (#33337754)
    I think there is some big cultural difference here between the US and Europe. I worked as a sysadmin for a few years. As far as I know, monitoring employees is completely illegal here (Belgium). You can't read emails or try to see which web sites have been visited by an employee. At most, you can make anonymous statistics, and I think you have to warn employees before. I don't think it would be legal to physically watch an employee all day, neither. Having employees sign some kind of agreement would be illegal, too. Saying that it's your computer so you can monitor them if you want has no legal value. It's your air, but you can't decide how much an employee can breathe ;-) I remember asking legal advice before signing my first contract. The conclusion was there was an illegal clause, which I could sign without any problem, as it was illegal and in fact had no value.
  • by Tom (822) on Monday August 23, 2010 @02:31AM (#33337788) Homepage Journal

    I pay for the internet connection, electricity, desk, and even for the time you are there, supposed to be working. And I can't check on you ? Does that strike anyone else as utterly ridiculous ?

    No, it doesn't. Your mental model isn't of employment, it's of slavery.

    I read TFA in the original language, not the crappy translation. We are talking about things like cameras in the toilets here. Yes, you definitely can't check on me there.

    And, quite frankly, it says a lot about the control freaks in management that they need to have it spelt out in a law that what I do in my private life after hours is something we used to call "private". Yes, even if I post it on Facebook for all to see. It is private in the sense that as long as my work is according to contract, it is none of your fucking business. I sold myself to you for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, if you want to have anything to do with the other 16 hours and the other 2 days, we need to renegotiate my contract including pay.

  • by Nossie (753694) <IanHarvie@@@4Development...Net> on Monday August 23, 2010 @02:40AM (#33337820)

    To be truthful 95% of the monitoring done is seriously for training purposes.... the company spends a lot of time with an employee each month with both the TL and employee listening to a few calls and giving a pep talk as to what they thought went well and what did not..9/10 times the employee go away from the experience with a pat on the back tips to improve and the targets are discussed with how they feel they are progressing within the company.

    If an employee gets a terrible customer satisfaction survey with no obvious reason (the customer was foreign and didn't understand the procedure as an example or just did not have the time right then) we have a full team of quality people calling them back to confirm. Those scores effect our bonus and if any are deemed unfair they are struck off.

    Quality, adherence and average handling time is what our bonus / job expectation already gets weighted on. I'm sure though if they wanted rid of me they could go through all my calls / interactions and find x amount of faults that would be enough to get me out the door. The thing is - they don't actively look for problems My every keystroke is not logged... etc etc

    I'm also one of the highest in the company for customer satisfaction (but my AHT is through the roof =D )

    I may not have any expectation of having privacy - but I do have the expectation of being human.

  • by vigmeister (1112659) on Monday August 23, 2010 @02:42AM (#33337828)

    Not spying on your employees is a good practice. Should good management practices be mandated?

    My take on it is that the law (common or otherwise) should grant employees an expectation of privacy even when they are at work. Companies that do want to monitor what is being done on their equipment during hours they are paying the employee should be allowed to do so. As long as they make sure they dispel this expectation.

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Monday August 23, 2010 @02:50AM (#33337882) Homepage Journal

    Your employee isn't your son. Children have severely curtailed rights under the supervision of their parents.

    You are arguing that corporations are parents of workers who are children without rights.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23, 2010 @03:04AM (#33337932)

    I don't see what you're getting at with you're sarcasm.

    You don't see what I am getting at with I am sarcasm?

  • by munky99999 (781012) on Monday August 23, 2010 @03:10AM (#33337958)
    That's what he was alluding to. He's trying to draw comparison to saying that your employer reading your personal info is just as wrong and bad as the red-light cameras. Employees being paid to surf the net is wrong sure.. but some jobs you just dont have anything to do sometimes. Therefore you surf the net. http://xkcd.com/303/ [xkcd.com]
  • by mikael_j (106439) on Monday August 23, 2010 @03:20AM (#33337986)

    I take it you're american and living in a "right to work" (or whatever they call it) state? Because in the rest of the civilized world there are laws to protect everyone, not just employers...

  • by OrangeTide (124937) on Monday August 23, 2010 @03:23AM (#33338004) Homepage Journal

    I remember East Germany. That was a time and place where privacy was an absurd concept. Where has the US gone since the cold war? It doesn't feel much different to me.

  • by syousef (465911) on Monday August 23, 2010 @03:26AM (#33338022) Journal

    Yah, but for the 1 guy whose performance increases 10x after using Facebook, 100 other employees performance will decrease 2x.

    What you're saying is that you are employing people you have to babysit. If you pay peanuts you get monkeys. Trying to solve your problem by firing one monkey and replace with another monkey is just idiotic. Try hiring decent people and offering them training, personal development and advancement opportunities. They'll be motivated to do good work 90% of the time. Trying to push that to 92% by spying will only put you right back at no one decent wanting to work for you and again you're stuck with monkeys and babies..

  • by kwbauer (1677400) on Monday August 23, 2010 @03:27AM (#33338026)

    What about an employer that is not a corporation like a sole proprietor? Is that employer not also a private citizen and would have the right to watch what someone is doing with his property?

    What if the employer is a family owned business? What if the employer is a small group of citizens? What, really, difference does it make how large or small the number of owners or number of employees?

    If a society believes in and fosters the concept of private property then it must respect the rights of the owners of property to control that property.

    So, in order to protect the rights of the employed citizens, we must trample on the rights of the employing citizens. It seems to be a fair trade to some. An unfair trade to others. And then there is the group that cannot even understand that the trade exists. That latter group needs to rethink their conceptions of the world.

  • by sjames (1099) on Monday August 23, 2010 @03:33AM (#33338044) Homepage

    Only if an employer is a legal guardian. You bear considerably more responsibility for your son than an employer does for an employee, so you have considerably more right to watch over him. There is also a presumption (true for the vast majority of parents) that you genuinely have your son's best interests at heart, above even your own. This is never true of an employer for an employee (except in a family business of course).

    Note that the toilets at work also belong to your employer and if you visit them while at work, you're on your employer's time. Does that make video to a voyeur site fair? I'll guess that you don't think so and thus acknowledge that there is at least SOME expectation of privacy at work and the only argument is over how much. Further that mere ownership of the hardware and being on the employer's time is not necessarily sufficient to negate the expectation of privacy.

    There is actually a big difference between a manager standing behind you and a camera. You are able to watch the watcher (literally and figuratively) when the watching is done in person.

    As for facebook, they're meaning at all. As in they can't t electronically follow you around after work to decide if they like how you live your life, they must make their decisions based on what you do at work.

  • by Tom (822) on Monday August 23, 2010 @03:33AM (#33338046) Homepage Journal

    Most managers don't think like that, unfortunately. Remember that the majority of managers did not get anywhere by being good at anything real. It is mostly politics, connections, and being able to hide the bodies.

    To most managers, the top sales guy could be twice as good if he'd just stop slacking off at facebook all day.

    They don't understand that it may be an integral part of why he is as good as he is. Try to change him and you may find his performance changes as well - not necessarily in the desired direction.

  • by Tom (822) on Monday August 23, 2010 @03:37AM (#33338054) Homepage Journal

    Fortunately, here in Germany you can't just fire someone like that, either. :)

    You see, our laws work to protect the citizens, not just the corporations. You see, your "rights" as a corporation only exist because the laws of the land grant them to you. Your desire to ignore the (other) laws of the land is a little... stupid.

    As I said: Your mental model is closer to slavery than to a contractual relationship between adult citizens.

  • by nawitus (1621237) on Monday August 23, 2010 @03:38AM (#33338058)
    Because Europeans tend to place the interest of the people ahead of corporate power.
  • by sjames (1099) on Monday August 23, 2010 @03:40AM (#33338070) Homepage

    We as a society don't believe anyone should work under such conditions. Thus, we are revoking your charter. If you don't want to do business by our rules, GTFO.

  • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Monday August 23, 2010 @03:42AM (#33338078)

    That would be like me saying I can't put a GPS on my car to keep tabs on where it goes when my son drives it.

    I don't know about "can't," but maybe you shouldn't (unless you have reason to think he's running drugs across the border.) If he's old enough to drive, then he's old enough to be off the leash a little. Trying to keep tabs on him at all times might just make him be less open about where he was with you.

    Similarly, there are situations where I could understand electronic monitoring of employees, but in most cases I'd expect surveillance would just make the employer/employee relationship more adversarial and less productive.

    Note that I am not a parent, nor do I know anything about management. Idle speculation and gut feelings only.

  • by hmmm (115599) on Monday August 23, 2010 @04:01AM (#33338138)

    Businesses in Europe haven't cottoned on to creating a Fox News equivalent, which would accuse politicians of being "liberal muslims!!!" every time they bring in new regulation for business.

  • by DamonHD (794830) <d@hd.org> on Monday August 23, 2010 @04:08AM (#33338168) Homepage

    Really?

    There's a universal assumption of respect for (and illegality of reusing without permission) personal data for example in your US?

    Must be a different US and EU than I know about then.

    Rgds

    Damon

  • Re:Inventory (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PatrickThomson (712694) on Monday August 23, 2010 @04:14AM (#33338198)

    Perhaps not suspiciously regarding your employees as thieves builds, oh, I don't know, an actual environment of trust and respect? The culture of corporate sabotage certainly exists on this side of the pond, but only in occasional moments during particularly vicious company mergers or layoffs. It's much more effective here to have one or two auditors trying to spot patterns not consistent with customer-originated shrinkage, and then come in for a closer look. Even if nobody gets caught, the one guy on the take usually backs down.

  • by PseudonymousBraveguy (1857734) on Monday August 23, 2010 @04:25AM (#33338248)

    Now, back to the topic in question. So I own a company. I pay for the computer. I pay for the internet connection, electricity, desk, and even for the time you are there, supposed to be working. And I can't check on you ? Does that strike anyone else as utterly ridiculous ? Ok, I will accept (not agree) having to inform the employees the company will be monitoring. But not being able to check if the person is doing the work they get payed to do, is just stupid.

    I sense a big cultural difference here. You seem to assume that your employees generally are trying to slack and not doing their work. In Germany we usually assume that employees do their job and have some sort of loyalty to the company. I believe that employees tend to work better if they are shown some trust. Of course there will allways be some people who are misusing this trust, but the majority will be more productive.

    Additionally I feel there should be borders to what an employer can do with his employees (there obviously are). In Germany, you have a right to privacy. The employer should not be allowed to breach that right without a very good reason (and indeed, there are exceptions in that law, e.g. if you stronly suspect an employee of beeing corrupt, you are allowed to monitor him)

  • Re:Inventory (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PatrickThomson (712694) on Monday August 23, 2010 @04:29AM (#33338260)

    My point was that employee theft is worse in places with poorer labour laws and oppressive workplaces, nothing more. Such extreme measures wouldn't be needed, but rather milder ones. It's a self-reinforcing problem, the more I get treated like a potential thief, the less I'm going to care about the company in return. Don't get me wrong, I think all businesses everywhere are sociopaths, but the illusion of corporate loyalty benefits everyone.

  • by dunkelfalke (91624) on Monday August 23, 2010 @04:41AM (#33338310)

    Employees are not property.

  • by ArsenneLupin (766289) on Monday August 23, 2010 @04:46AM (#33338340)

    Read the title of the post you replied to. It's THEIR computers. The equipment belongs to them. Me monitoring my computer is completely different than me monitoring your computer. Therefore...I don't see what you're getting at with you're sarcasm.

    It's the cybercafé's computer. Does that mean they can put a keystroke logger on there?

    It's the bathhouse's hottub. Does that mean that they can put a camera pointing at it?

    It's the clothing store's fitting room. Does that mean they can put a camera in there?

    It's the restaurant's toilet. Does that mean they can put a camera in there?

  • by dna_(c)(tm)(r) (618003) on Monday August 23, 2010 @04:55AM (#33338382)

    [...] I think the employer has a right to know about it.[...]but they're still allowed to stand behind you and watch you work, right? [...]

    Measure productivity instead of putting your employees under surveillance.

    The meek inherit the totalitarian regime...

  • by shaitand (626655) on Monday August 23, 2010 @05:14AM (#33338464) Journal

    I use an ssh tunnel to a proxy running on my home connection and a portable firewall application to block any company network traffic other than what I have to open to actually perform my work.

    As long as I do my job its none of the company's damn business what else I might be doing.

  • by PseudonymousBraveguy (1857734) on Monday August 23, 2010 @05:17AM (#33338478)

    Many of these protections are already in place in the US and Europe is just catching up. For example, US employers have been limited for years in how they can use social networking sites, based on existing US non-discrimination and privacy laws. Many of those restrictions in the US are based on case law; they don't require separate legislation.

    Yeah, nobody in the US [slashdot.org] was ever fired [slashdot.org] for posting stuff [associatedcontent.com] on social networking sites [cbsatlanta.com] like facebook [pcmag.com]

  • by shaitand (626655) on Monday August 23, 2010 @05:20AM (#33338492) Journal

    That would depend on what they are supposed to be doing? Just because you can't listen to an employees phone calls and record them scratching their ass doesn't mean you can't track their sales/resolutions/or whatever it is you have them on the phone for.

  • by dna_(c)(tm)(r) (618003) on Monday August 23, 2010 @05:21AM (#33338496)

    Read the title of the post you replied to. It's THEIR computers. The equipment belongs to them. Me monitoring my computer is completely different than me monitoring your computer. Therefore...I don't see what you're getting at with you're sarcasm.

    It is the employers computer, and the employee's privacy, e-mail, Facebook account.

    By your reasoning, every ISP has a right to read your e-mails/chat/... since you use their equipment. Oh boy. Privacy matters. Look at North Korea, Iran etc. and see how they suppress opposition.

    You're correct that somebody who gets paid to do some useful (or not so useful) stuff required by an employer shouldn't be doing something else instead. Would you like your employer to get access to your home to look for things that might make you less productive? Like too much bottles of wine? Of course not. Instead, they have to keep an eye open for detecting people that are drunk or sleepy.

    Better still, monitor performance not what they do. Who cares you handle 5 private mails during the day when your productivity is 20% more than average?

    When you start sending your employees the message that they are paid for being present and not for being productive, your productivity plummets.

  • by shaitand (626655) on Monday August 23, 2010 @05:25AM (#33338510) Journal

    Besides that, what is the average turnover at your call center where they expect you to be working every second of the day?

    They might be able to get away with fewer reps by trying to exploit them to the max but I doubt any of them stick around long enough to get very good at what they do.

  • by Aceticon (140883) on Monday August 23, 2010 @05:51AM (#33338594)

    Most of European countries have more than 2 ellectable parties unlike the US were the only 2 ellectable parties defend the same vested interests but have 2 different public faces to deceive the plebes.

    Also average education in Europe is higher (lower and mid-level schools systems are beter than the US).

    In addition to that, most European countries have long histories of being under and fighting dictatorships, conquering powers and oppressive monarchies (the US had ONE revolution while your average European country has been throwing out conquerors since before the times of the Roman Empire). While in the US people talk loudly about the need for less government (while government actually concentrates on promoting the interests of a minority) in Europe governments are less prone to promote some minority of people at the cost of the majority (otherwise they would, at the very least be faced with massive strikes and maybe rebellion) - the contrast between the talk of less government in the US and the government that actually has to please the citizens in most of Europe kinda reminds me of the saying from my country that "The dog that barks is not the one that bites": in Europe we "bark" less but "bite" when needed.

    Last but not least, in most of Europe there's still a belief in social safety nets (avoiding that people fall too far into poverty) and social fairness (avoiding that those with more resources, like rich individuals and large companies, get more benefits than those with less resources), ideas which in the US would be shouted-away by the brainwashed ignorant masses as communism.

    That said, Europe is a large place with many languages and cultures - things can vary quite a bit, for example, between Northern European countries and Mediterranean Countries. Also of late many American cultural and economical practices have been imported, more so to places with a weak history of throwing out oppressors - though the recent recession has 'caused a re-evaluation of the "success" of the American Model.

  • by shaitand (626655) on Monday August 23, 2010 @05:54AM (#33338608) Journal

    The goals are based on business needs not on milking every ounce of possible performance out of each employee.

    Of course some metric of performance is needed to know how much staff you need. If there isn't a hard requirement like the number of simultaneous calls to be handled that sets this number for you then you set goals and find the median performance of the staff. Employees far above it get rewards (actual rewards like raises, bonuses, and promotions, not put into a monthy drawing for a TGI Fridays gift card), employees far below it get disciplined and ultimately fired. This will drive employees to want to exceed goals.

    Most employees aren't going to push the bar and there is nothing wrong with that. It doesn't mean they shouldn't get breaks and especially doesn't mean you should punish those who can beat the goals by requiring more output from them than everyone else.

  • by Jedi Alec (258881) on Monday August 23, 2010 @06:03AM (#33338646)

    So, in order to protect the rights of the employed citizens, we must trample on the rights of the employing citizens.

    Sorry, but if you think it is a *right* to read my e-mail or point a camera at me just because I happen to work for you...you've got bigger issues.

  • by Dhalka226 (559740) on Monday August 23, 2010 @06:09AM (#33338670)

    I understand where you're coming from, but I do not agree.

    What a law like this is, more than anything, is a recognition of the inherently unequal balance of power in a (potential) employer-employee relationship. Here in the US we tend to pretend that it's a mostly equal relationship and that all of this sort of thing is properly evaluated as part of the proffered salary. Some people really are studly enough that they can demand and receive anything they want from any employer they want, but the vast majority of the world isn't. In fact I'd be willing to bet the majority of workers simply feel lucky to have a job at all.

    That being the case, if this law is worth passing then it's because privacy is worth protecting. Creating a law demanding respect for an employee's privacy and simultaneously writing in a loophole that almost any company would be able to exploit to completely ignore it has no value. They may as well not write the law; it's not helping anybody.

  • by shaitand (626655) on Monday August 23, 2010 @06:29AM (#33338744) Journal

    How many actual sole props do you know of? In my experience even though there may be a sole owner that owner is usually taking advantage of some sort of artificial entity that provides him/her with liability protection and at that point we aren't talking about the owner but the entity and citizens are more important than paper entities. The right to privacy and human needs also trumps property rights since property is not required to live a happy life while privacy and other human needs are.

    "So, in order to protect the rights of the employed citizens, we must trample on the rights of the employing citizens."

    The reverse would also be true, in order to protect the rights of employing citizens we must trample on the rights of employed citizens. There are a lot more employed than employing which makes it an obvious choice.

    The primary reason for employing is to pay others less than the value of their output, sell that output for its true value, and garner the difference which we call a profit. This is done so that the employing can meet their own needs including their need for privacy. It is legal to exploit the employed in this fashion so that is not at issue. But guaranteeing the rights to the employed does not prevent the employing from performing this exploitation and garnering a profit and thus fulfilling their needs.

    Guaranteeing the property rights of the employing DOES infringe upon the needs of the employed.

    Case closed.

  • by xnpu (963139) on Monday August 23, 2010 @06:36AM (#33338770)

    I think you already think too much like a computer ;-)

    Lines of code or number of problems fixed are not things I can send my client invoices for. Delivering the agreed products on the agreed dates is.

    I measure my programmers performance by their ability to meet the agreed deadline. A deadline usually proposed by themselves and regarded as reasonable by everyone involved, including a number of their peer programmers and myself.

    Really, if you deal with humans as humans rather than as machines, things become very measurable. Some of them actually spend their time at the office just to interact with their peers, brainstorm and kick around some ideas while they do much of the actual coding at home during the night. This is totally cool with me and doesn't in any way affect my ability to measure their performance.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23, 2010 @07:18AM (#33338944)

    Yes to all, provided patrons are informed. People can then vote with their money.

  • Re:Response (Score:1, Insightful)

    by dreamchaser (49529) on Monday August 23, 2010 @07:26AM (#33338984) Homepage Journal

    I'm sorry, but if I (as a company) am paying for and providing computers and email for my employees to do their jobs I should have every right to monitor it. I agree with a few provisions such as not using cameras for the express use of surveillance of employees, but as to the company's information systems, a company should have 100% access to everything done on said system.

  • Re:Response (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arth1 (260657) on Monday August 23, 2010 @07:41AM (#33339058) Homepage Journal

    I'm sorry, but if I (as a company) am paying for and providing computers and email for my employees to do their jobs I should have every right to monitor it.

    Um, why? You should have a right to expect that the job gets done -- that is what you pay them for.
    You may have a wish to see everything they do, but that doesn't make it a right, even though you rent their services. No more than my buying your products or renting your services gives me a right to install cameras in your office. No, it's not really different.

    Thank goodness the days of slavery and overseers are over. Well, in most of the civilized world, that is.

  • by delinear (991444) on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:13AM (#33339268)
    This is about potential employers not using Facebook to prejudice a job interview (although how you enforce that is anyone's guess), that doesn't necessarily preclude your actual employer from looking - that might still be a valid HR use (if you claim you're ill but your FB page says you're out water skiing or something).
  • by gnasher719 (869701) on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:14AM (#33339278)

    What a law like this is, more than anything, is a recognition of the inherently unequal balance of power in a (potential) employer-employee relationship. Here in the US we tend to pretend that it's a mostly equal relationship and that all of this sort of thing is properly evaluated as part of the proffered salary. Some people really are studly enough that they can demand and receive anything they want from any employer they want, but the vast majority of the world isn't. In fact I'd be willing to bet the majority of workers simply feel lucky to have a job at all.

    I'd say the principal political mistake is to believe that the state owes companies anything at all. The only thing that should ever count are _people_. Companies obviously need enough protection so that they can work properly to produce jobs, income to employees, goods or services to customers, profit to stakeholders. But the state doesn't owe anything to the company _per se_. Only as far as protecting companies benefits the people.

    Someone was going on here how the fact that he pays people a salary gives him all kinds of right. If that is true, then obviously the employees by giving him their work must also have all kinds of rights. Like having the right to check and intervene when the boss extracts too many profits from the company for his lifestyle, endangering the wellbeing of the company and the jobs of his employees.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:14AM (#33339280)

    We were the best, once.

    Unfortunately, you're right. We've taken the capitalism thing [i]way[/i] too far, and in the process forgotten why we broke from England in the first place. I see even libertarians falling victim to the common "government evil, corporations good!" groupthink. News flash: the corporations ARE the government now! They took over while we weren't looking, and now press their agenda with increasingly bogus laws that advance their own interests, not those of the people.

  • by bradley13 (1118935) on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:17AM (#33339298) Homepage

    You are technically correct. However, "slack" is important.

    If you are constantly under surveillance by the government, you are living in a police state. This does not make for good living.

    It's no different at work. If you are constantly under surveillance, you are in a sweatshop, which does not make for a good working environment. Such working conditions are unacceptable.

    If you cannot trust your employees to get their work done, then you either need to train them or fire them. If they get their work done, then it should not matter if they spend a bit of time dealing with personal matters while in the office.

  • by DrgnDancer (137700) on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:43AM (#33339510) Homepage

    I'm thinking in that case you'd have a separate account for the business relevant use of FB which would be monitor-able. My personal account might be "John Smith", but at work I am "Customer Service - The Company" or "The-Comp - John Smith". Back when Instant Messaging was the big thing lots of companies did this. Probably better than using a personal account anyway, for lots of reasons. It clearly denotes the affiliation of the person someone is "talking" to, It provides segregation in the mind of the employee, and it helps prevent people wandering off with your client list when they quit and take their personal FB account with them.

  • by DrgnDancer (137700) on Monday August 23, 2010 @09:15AM (#33339798) Homepage

    The problem is you're still paying peanuts. So every time you civilize a monkey it thinks: "Hey, that other company pays in *bananas* and I now have the fecal avoidance mechanisms to qualify." Time to find a new monkey, and start the whole process over again.

  • Re:Response (Score:4, Insightful)

    by arth1 (260657) on Monday August 23, 2010 @11:50AM (#33342368) Homepage Journal

    I can understand not being monitored on cameras and whatnot, but I can tell you right now, as a sysadmin, I monitor just about everything on my network and I'll be damned if anyone is ever going to stop me from that practice. The day I'm not allowed to monitor everything on the network is the day I quit my job of 20 years.

    To quote yourself, "don't let the door hit you on the way out".

    You're responsible for maintaining operations -- productivity and personal conduct is none of your concern. If you make it your concern, you're almost certainly exceeding your authority.
    If the amount of data flowing back and forth to Facebook causes a problem, you can raise this as a concern, along with technical evaluations of possible solutions. But to go in and see just what people do on Facebook isn't your job, and if you have made it so, you're the wrong person for your job.

  • Re:Response (Score:3, Insightful)

    by arth1 (260657) on Monday August 23, 2010 @12:07PM (#33342694) Homepage Journal

    Nope, I am paying you to work, not cruise facebook, compose love letters or work on your resume. SO anything you do while taking my dime is subject to my approval.

    Non sequitur. The conclusion doesn't follow the premise.
    If you're paying someone to work, and they don't work, that gives you a valid reason to complain. But not to check out what they're doing instead of working. You're not a slave owner who owns (and are responsible for) everything the slave does -- you only own the contracted work he or she does. If it's not enough work, then that needs to be communicated or negotiated, or the employment terminated.

  • by Tom (822) on Monday August 23, 2010 @01:15PM (#33343770) Homepage Journal

    First of all the "citizens" seem to be protected (and thus considered "citizens") only if they are employees. Strange. I thought the managers and the shareholders are also citizens...

    Laws always protect the weaker party of a contract. The stronger one doesn't need protection. Aside from that, yes, these laws are considered employee protection laws. There are other laws that protect shareholders, for example, from their threats. Which are different. Those laws are about things like fraud, insider trading, etc.

    If only Germany would allow that. You see, those "citizens" (translation: slacky employees) know that they can't be fired (unless eating babies alive, or some other gruesome act). Since they can't be fired, they don't work.

    Maybe you should try talking about things you know something about.

    First, you can review performance, set goals, measure them, and all that. You just can't do it arbitrarily at will, there are some regulations you have to follow. The most important is that companies in Germany elect a workers council, democratically elected representatives of the employees (you do like democracy, don't you?) which have a right to have a say in such matters.
    Second, of course you can fire. You just can't do it without reason, again there are laws regulating under what conditions you can fire someone.
    Three, just like pretty much everywhere else in the world, it is idiotic to make one blanket statement about the whole country. There are certainly companies where your words are pretty much true, and there are others where employees would die laughing if they read them.

    So please Mr. German, spare me your totalitarian idea that some category is the "citizen" while the others are "non-citizens" (or shall I say... "sub-citizens"??? as in "sub-humans").

    Pfft. What a stupid strawman.

  • by Tom (822) on Monday August 23, 2010 @02:04PM (#33344574) Homepage Journal

    Watch your unemployment go up Tom. Thank you for your asshole attitude. These companies just found another reason to outsource the work to third world nations.

    Bullshit. They've been selling us that strawman for 10 years now, all the while using it to eliminate employee rights, lower wages and generally destroy the "social" part of our social market economy.

    If they were right, those steps should have produced some positive results. They haven't. Oh, wait, corporate profits have gone through the roof.

    Now, if we could cut the stupid ad hominem attacks out, it would help. I've never been unemployed in my life except when I choose to (had some money to burn after the dot-com era, for example). But I've worked closely with HR for years, including many 1:1 talks with the head of HR of a medium sized company (~2000 employees). I think I have a much better picture about what makes a company fire people or outsource work than the evening news portray.

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