Corona-fied: Employers are now spying on remote workers in their homes

The future of work is here, ushered in by a global pandemic. But is it turning employment into a Worker’s Paradise of working at home? Or more of a Big Brother panopticon?

Disturbing increases in the use of digital surveillance technologies by employers to monitor their remote workers are raising alarm bells. With the number of remote workers surging as a result of the pandemic—42 percent of U.S. workers are now doing their jobs from their kitchens, living rooms, and home offices—a number of employers have begun requiring their workers to download spying software to their laptops and smartphones. The goal is for businesses to monitor what their remote employees do all day, to track job performance and productivity, and to reduce so-called “cyber-slacking.”

Business software products from Hubstaff, which tracks a worker’s mouse movements, keyboard strokes, webpages visited, email, file transfers and applications used, are surging in sales. So are sales for TSheets, which workers download to their smartphones so that employers can track their location. Another product, called Time Doctor, “downloads videos of employees’ screens” and uses “a computer’s webcam to take a picture of the employee every 10 minutes,” NPR reports. One employee told NPR, “If you’re idle for a few minutes, if you go to the bathroom or… [to the kitchen], a pop-up will come up and it’ll say, ‘You have 60 seconds to start working again or we’re going to pause your time.'”

Another system, InterGuard, can be secretly installed on workers’ computers. The Washington Post reports that it “creates a minute-by-minute timeline of every app and website they view, categorizing each as ‘productive’ or ‘unproductive’ and ranking workers by their ‘productivity score.'” Other employers are using a lower-tech approach, requiring workers to stay logged in to a teleconference service like Zoom all day so

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HVAC contractor charged with spying on girls at another N.J. school

A former contractor who was charged earlier this month with recording young girls in bathroom stalls at a Camden County school was now facing charges for doing the same thing at a Cape May County high school several years ago, authorities allege.

An investigation revealed that Gregory Mahley, 51, of West Deptford, performed HVAC work at the Cape May County Technical High School and recorded multiple people in a bathroom on October 15, 2013, March 20, 2014, and April 22, 2014, according to a joint statement from the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office and Middle Township Police.

Mahley, who worked for eight years for Multi-Temp Mechanical, Inc., in Westville, was arrested and charged Wednesday with 10 counts of second-degree endangering the welfare of a child for manufacturing child pornography and 10 counts of third-degree endangering the welfare of a child for possessing the child pornography, the office said.

All the victims who were recorded are now adults and have been identified, and contacted by authorities, police said.

The discovery of Mahley’s alleged crimes in Cape May County came after he was arrested on Sept. 9 for recording girls in the stalls at Glen Landing Middle School, in Camden County, officials said.

Authorities said he installed mirrors onto the back of bathroom stall doors that allowed him to secretly record girls using the restroom through an air conditioning vent.

Once the mirrors were discovered, school officials found Mahley inside the utility closet where he recorded the videos, the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office said in a release earlier this month. During the investigation, multiple devices were seized from his home and his work vehicle.

While performing a search of a tablet he owned, detectives located videos of six minor female students and one adult and charged him with seven counts of

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