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Cellphones Privacy Your Rights Online

New Phone Allows Bosses To Snoop On Staff 143

tad001 writes "The Japanese phone giant KDDI has developed a way to track users' movements in fine detail. It works by analyzing the movement of accelerometers, found in many handsets. Activities such as walking, climbing stairs, or even cleaning can be identified, the researchers say. The company plans to sell the service to clients such as managers, foremen, and employment agencies."
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New Phone Allows Bosses To Snoop On Staff

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  • It works (Score:5, Funny)

    by MyLongNickName ( 822545 ) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @01:23AM (#31434728) Journal

    My boss just came into my office and told me to get the hell off of Slashdot and get back to work!

    • Oh yea? My boss just busted into the bathroom stall and told me to stop wanking!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Next will probably be an application that records audio from the cell phone microphone and tells what you're typing from the sound of the keys. Or even what you're seeing on the screen [].

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by sjames ( 1099 )

        If they turn on the microphone, you've got them. Then, when you're sure they're listening, have a conversation all about the horrific and eventually fatal torture you'd inflict on the managers if you ever got fired or found out they were spying on you. Just act out your own part and the voice of some horrified other person.

        Then, they're stuck.

        • Then you get thrown in jail for threatening the life of another person, unless you hire a really expensive lawyer who can prove that you were simply exercising your first amendment rights and had no intention to follow through with your "plans".


          And yes I know you were making a joke.

          • by sjames ( 1099 )

            Actually, you couldn't get thrown into jail. You were just trying out an idea for a play (that explains why you were acting both parts, do the other person's voice for the police). You can hardly be blamed for wanting to do get away from the sort of employer who spies on their employees.

            Then you sue. An employer spying on their employees like that should generate near instant hatred amongst a jury. They'll desperately want to punish the employer from the very start of the trial.

            • You were just trying out an idea for a play

              I think you missed the part about hiring an expensive lawyer to combat your employers expensive lawyers in order to prove that is what was happening :P

              But maybe I'm just being pessimistic.

              • by sjames ( 1099 )

                Their expensive lawyer has nothing to do with you going to jail or not, only the DA would and it's not a strong case. Their lawyer WILL advise them that testifying on the public record that they spy on employees might not be a great idea. Their PR people will fully agree.

                Their expensive lawyer might also advise them that they would be smart to settle with you ASAP rather than telling a jury that they spy on people (especially if the 'play' took place in the bathroom or if in your inevitable interview w/ the

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by BrokenHalo ( 565198 )
        Next will probably be an application that records audio from the cell phone microphone...

        I guess that would be doable pretty easily with current technology. It's called a bug. Supposedly not legal without a warrant and all that.

        I have been offered company phones at several jobs, and I always turn them down. I would rather pay for my own phone, and retain control over when (or if) I answer it. I have friends who have been carpeted by the boss for not answering their phones when they were in the loo. I w
    • Re:It works (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 11, 2010 @01:56AM (#31434884)

      But my code's compiling! []

      • My code has been compiling for the last two hours. Over and over and over, just to make sure it REALLY works and compiles fine!

        Hey, if other people may repeat the same actions over and over on their computer, hoping that something magically works the second time after it failed to work the first time, so may I!

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by BrokenHalo ( 565198 )
          My code has been compiling for the last two hours.

          Back in the day when I first got into programming, it was not uncommon for compiles to run for 10 hours or more. I sometimes used to take a sleeping-bag into the machine-room with me. If the compile bailed, I would be woken up by the clatter of the core dump being output to a 1600 line/min barrel printer.
          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by AlecC ( 512609 )

            Back in the day when I first got into programming, it was not uncommon for compiles to run for 10 hours or more.

            Back in the day? It takes the hardware engineers round here 22 hours to compile their device. If you find a bug in the hardware, come back tomorrow. If the compiler doesn't crash running on a machine with a mere 12Gb of memory,

  • I would have it turned off most of the time.

  • by Statecraftsman ( 718862 ) * on Thursday March 11, 2010 @01:25AM (#31434740) Homepage
    While this sounds like a great idea, it's going to be quietly retired after someone manages to match up the boss's "cleaning" activities with those of anyone else in the company.

    "Wow, look how perfectly these accelerations overlay!"
    • by TheMidget ( 512188 ) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @02:39AM (#31435052)
      Actually happened in my company. Two people were working late, and hmmm, given that they were the only two left in the company at that time of the day, decided it was time to have a little bit of fun together.

      They carefully locked the office door, just in case, and let the hot and steamy action begin... completely ignoring the security camera from the parking lot that happened to point directly at their office window!

      Next time folks, not only lock the office door, but also close the blinds!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by houghi ( 78078 )

        And learn where all the inside camera's are as well. However sometimes you might not know.

      • by cerberusss ( 660701 ) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @10:24AM (#31437100) Homepage Journal

        True story. My now retired dad had his own company, with about 120 employees. One night he was working late and when closing off, he found the head of the tech design department screwing the cleaning lady. My dad told him the conversation went like this:

        Cleaning lady: *moan*
        Manager: "Oh yeah!"
        Dad: *opens door*
        Dad: "Oh hi there!"
        Manager: "Get lost, Paul!!"
        Dad: *laughs* "Don't forget the lights when you're done!"

      • Sorry, but a world in which that is going to get you into trouble, is a sick and disgusting world that I wouldn’t want to live in.

        If it would happen in my company, I’d be happy. I’d just tell them that if they have a relationship, and if that relationship is ending, then they can’t work in close proximity anymore.
        (I’d also leave it to them, what to do with the camera recordings.)

        I believe in relationships in a company. How are you going to be a team if you don’t like each

  • link to article (Score:5, Informative)

    by gront ( 594175 ) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @01:25AM (#31434742) [] is a link to the article, rather than just the BBC
  • Oh boy, so my boss can tell if I'm leaning or cleaning. I anticipate a spike in workplace injuries and stress related ailments and a general decline in the quality of the work of all manual laborers on whom this technology is used, unless and until managers learn how NOT to use it. Good thing so many states have at-will employment and so few such workers have unions or health insurance, or this could cost a FORTUNE when it hits the US.
    • There was a thread just today on Augmented Reality, the same tech that allow a phone to add location data to what you see, is the same tech that allows other people to watch where you are, and what you doing. Or course its in the hands of the nice Apple guys, how would never stop a user controlling modification to his own phone, oh whoops.


      Privacy verses Surveillence [] Feed @ Feed Distiller []

    • Fortunately this is completely illegal and unconstitutional round here. Have fun.
  • Strap the phone to a stray dog/cat/rat/monkey and let 'em follow that!
  • Wait until they make one of these for schools to use to spy on kids in their homes...
  • It broke again. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zaphod-AVA ( 471116 ) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @01:38AM (#31434798)

    The accelerometer clearly shows me working when this one fell too. I suppose you will have to assign me another one. Well, I'm a team player sir, you can just get me a cheap phone for work use since I seem to be so hard on them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by zappepcs ( 820751 )

      And that is exactly what will happen. They are too easy to break, lose, steal, and then there is the forgot it at home, forgot to charge it, and myriad ways to defeat the system.

      A second thought: Do companies actually still pay for cell phones? Is that a perk I should be asking for?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Barny ( 103770 )

        If its part of your job, then usually they do.

        For instance on-call workers typically need a particular phone to support their companies dispatch software. A lot of them just use i-Phones because, well, "there's an app for that".

        • I'm so glad when our company quit paying for ours. We were no longer 'on call'. If you couldn't reach us at our desk. SUCK IT.

      • I have a very good way to defeat the system. It's called a constitution.
    • response (Score:4, Insightful)

      by commodoresloat ( 172735 ) * on Thursday March 11, 2010 @03:59AM (#31435396)

      No, that's all right, we'll just deduct the replacement cost from your pay. That will help teach you to be more responsible with company property.

      • by toQDuj ( 806112 )

        *nod* I am in a place which requires you to write a humble letter of apology if you lose or misplace your access card.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        No, that's all right, we'll just deduct the replacement cost from your pay. That will help teach you to be more responsible with company property.

        No, it'll teach the company about Wage & Labor laws, the hard way.

        It's illegal to require, ask, or even accept repayment from an employee for loss, damages, or theft of company products, resources, etc. You can write them up, fire them, file charges for theft, negligence, or intentional destruction, and try to get the money back that way, but you can't just dip into their checks.
        For example if you handle cash & it comes up short, they can NOT ask you to repay it or accept payment to avoid a write-up

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by the_xaqster ( 877576 )
      Wouldn't work for me. First time it breaks or is damaged, I get charged 50% of the "Unsubsidised" cost of the phone when issued (£250), then the subsequent times I get charged 100% (£500). The phones are replaced about every 3 -4 years, so in theory I could be charged from £250 to £500 for having a 4 year old phone break on me. This comes straight from my wages as a deduction on my payslip.
  • My Phone always sits on my desk not moving much at all.
  • Dude... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LynnwoodRooster ( 966895 ) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @01:55AM (#31434878) Journal
    I am SO swinging that phone from the rooftop... Let them figure that one out! Or tossing it across the road to a friend on the other side. Yes boss, as a matter of fact I can fly!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DigiShaman ( 671371 )

      Or you could just flush it. Think of all the turns and strange directions it will be reporting back. Just like the marketing dept...

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by oever ( 233119 )

      Apple might already be using the accelerometer and gps, and in the future thermometer and gas analyzer, to determine what services you are likely to buy and what happened to the device that might void warranty.

    • Re:Dogs can fly too (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dogugotw ( 635657 )

      A few years back, the Iditarod added GPS trackers to some of the top drivers sleds so their position and speed could be displayed to users who subscribed to the 'Iditarod Insider' service. One of the guys wasn't too happy about this and gave his tracker to one of the supply aircraft...Lookie... is now going 150 mph, in the wrong direction, at 3000' agl...awesome dog team!

      Actually, the experiment went over really well with those who follow the race so this year everyone got a tracker. It's pretty cool to b

  • by wisnoskij ( 1206448 ) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @02:05AM (#31434926) Homepage

    The Pennsylvania school district announces that they plan to end their controversial laptop policy and give harmless cell phones to their students to make up for spying on them.

    • by mrmeval ( 662166 )

      So they've not convicted them of pedophilia and forced them out of a position of public trust and made them put signs in their yards.

      I'm disappointed.

  • by syousef ( 465911 ) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @02:24AM (#31434992) Journal

    Track that you nosey idiots. Unless they're going to stipulate that all employees must WEAR their phones.

  • by aussie_a ( 778472 ) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @02:49AM (#31435084) Journal

    If my boss wants to buy this phone, great. They've just given me a big neon flashing sign warning me that they're a control freak. I can now either move to a different department or start looking for a new job.

    I'd rather have obvious signs I can't miss that my boss likes to create a hostile work environment, rather than subtle signs I might miss at first. The more blatant they are, the better.

    • Thank god there are so many other jobs out there right now so companies can't go around abusing their employees like this.
  • Leave the phone on the desk: you don't need it in the toilet.
  • Livestock (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Beelzebud ( 1361137 ) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @03:05AM (#31435136)
    Hell if you're going to treat us like livestock, just go all out! How about microchips and ear tags! Maybe the company logo branded on your body.

    If I had a boss that tried to make his workers use something like this, I'd quit my job.
    • Happened already. There was a company a year or two back that required employees get an RFID chip implanted in order to continue working there. Forgot the name of the company, but I found the story here on slashdot.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Opportunist ( 166417 )

        I'd wonder if they're still in business. People who are good at what they're doing tend to find jobs anywhere. People who're bad at what they're doing have to swallow whatever their boss subjects them to.

        Guess which group keeps a company afloat and which one sinks it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by RobertB-DC ( 622190 ) *

          I'd wonder if they're still in business. People who are good at what they're doing tend to find jobs anywhere. People who're bad at what they're doing have to swallow whatever their boss subjects them to.

          True, in general. But there's an interesting cautionary tale (by the guy who founded, oddly enough) that posits a corollary -- what if you were bad at doing something once, but an all-knowing never-forgetting system prevents you from *ever* putting it behind you?

          As these communication net

  • by Gordonjcp ( 186804 ) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @03:46AM (#31435320) Homepage

    At the moment you can buy a horrifically expensive option board for some radios that does exactly this. That way you can tell if the HT that is supposed to be clipped to your security guard's belt as he walks around your bonded warehouse has suddenly gone horizontal. Another application is in shopping centres where it's pretty handy to be able to track where cleaners and security guards are - and have been in the past. Why? Nosiness? Spying? No.


    You: "Well, let's see, the cleaner went past there three minutes ago, so it can't have been like that for long."

    MBCS: "But... But... Butt..."

    or alternatively:
    You: "Right, who's doing the guard tour, oh it's Wee Wullie. That's funny, he's been standing at the same bit for a couple of minutes now, moving around quite a lot though. Wonder if everything's okay?"

    <clicky on CCTV console>

    You: "Aha, righty. Let's send Big Davie down to give him some 'assistance' there..."

  • There's an app for that. I mean, seriously. It's called demagnetizing the accelerometer. This basically allows it to either remain at zero, or points within 0 indicating little to no movement. Sort of like your typical EA programmer.
  • Marketing fail (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @04:11AM (#31435466)

    Seriously, who's the marketing genius and why isn't he fired yet?

    Can't you forsee what's going to happen? Unions will be all over it, key employees will complain and go ballistic over it, threatening to quit if they're not let off the leash.

    Solution: Market it to overprotective parents. Kids have neither unions nor can they quit their parents.

    • Exactly. And teach them the most important lesson of our society nowadays: Be a total dick, terrorize even small children and take away everyone’s privacy... just because you can, or because you’re insane (what you call “overprotective”)!

      For a greater tomorrow! Yay!

  • 1. Strap a vibrator onto the phone.
    2. Hang it on a pendulum and use a blutooth to use it.
    3. Leave it on a speaker
    4. Use an iPhone that doesn't parrallel process.
  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @04:28AM (#31435524) Journal

    Being a boss is easy, there are only two kind of employees. Lazy ones, who will slack of any chance they get and perform at best at a level just above firing, and good employees who take pride in their job.

    It will cost a fortune to turn a lazy one into a good one. It will save you money to turn a good one into a lazy one, in the short term. It is easy, just keep cutting benefits, breaks, perks and up the work load while micro-managing them to hell.

    But most managers/bosses feel they need to earn their keep by showing they are making the people work the hardest. If you spend the money of those kind of managers and their bag of tricks on salary, you would be able to hire the absolute best and have people fighting to stay with your company. Go ahead, offer a cleaner 50% above average wage. No problems filling vacancies, no need to watch their every move and you get motivated employees who got a reason not to exchange you the moment they a chance. Because even cleaning staff builds up a lot of knowledge you can't easily replace with the Xth temp because your turn-over rate is 100%.

    By all means, you go tech to try to manage those who can only earn the lowest wages, I pay a bit more and get the cream. In the end, I know who is more efficient.

  • great step for Big Brother...
  • Sure I was at work, just track the phone and you will see that I was at my desk all day.

    And even more, I am sure TV shows like CSI will never be the same as people are proven to be at work all the time and thus could NEVER have been anywere else.

    Joking aside: I understand why they would do it. People who are snooped upon and treadend to be fired will be more productive. I know because I asked this at work and fired thee first person who did not answer the question to my liking. Although he was the first per

  • by pandrijeczko ( 588093 ) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @06:39AM (#31435994)

    As a Brit working for an American company, all I can say is that all my boss cares about is that he has a pretty graph at the end of each week, month & quarter that shows me and his other guys are utilised as highly as possible and making money for the company.

    He's a decent American bloke but constantly stressed out by the managers above him and I wouldn't do his job for all the tea in China (or coffee in Starbucks). Plus he doesn't have either the time or inclination to check up on me any more than he does currently (once a week at most).

    If you do work for a company that has managers needing to do this level of granular "surveillance" of staff then it's time to get another job - because if they're going to those depths then they're probably going to get rid of you anyway....

  • by Bearhouse ( 1034238 ) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @06:53AM (#31436044)

    OK, I guess we're all against the potentially creepy applications of this.
    But could there be useful ones? Most people carry cell phones, could this be used to monitor people with known history of health problems, such as heart disease, or the elderly?
    If my cell phone detected that I'd just had a stroke, or that one of my parents had just had a fall, and was unconscious at the bottom of a staircase, and informed the emergency services, then that would be the kind of intrusion that I could accept.

    • by RMH101 ( 636144 )
      I can think of a couple of good uses:

      * Detect if suddenly dropped/gone horizontal and no further movement - e.g. a lone worker alarm, that flags if someone might have tripped or fainted etc
      * Detect if a driver has been driving for over x hours and suggest they pull in for a break
      * Track a security guard on his roudns so that if anything happens, they know where he is and where he's been - alternative to the manual punch-in waypoint stations they have in industrial settings
      * Use for automatic clock in/
  • by pandrijeczko ( 588093 ) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @07:58AM (#31436272) patent my new design for the "Feline Cellphone Backpack"!

    Imagine this is your boss's office as he tracks you on his computer screen:

    "Okay, so he's just gone out through his kitchen door... he's climbing the fence into his neighbour's garden... now he's squatting down in their rose bed???"

  • ... my boss just asked me how my interview went.

  • by EMR ( 13768 ) on Thursday March 11, 2010 @09:34AM (#31436722)

    Then why did you hire them.

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