Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Beware Of Bosses Bearing Gifts!

I have heard of smart cars,

televisions, telephones, refrigerators even smart doorbells, but I had never heard of smart cushions, until now, and that is the thing, photograph Joergelman/Pixabay, employees of Hebo Technology, a high-tech company based in Zhejiang Province, China had also not heard of smart cushions either, but were delighted when they were presented with smart cushions by their bosses, it helped them stay healthy, by monitoring their vitals and offering healthy advice, they offered a wealth of data, including breathing rate, heart rate, and sitting posture, and even reminded them to stretch or get up, if they sat down for too long but it turns out they had a more sinister purpose, a woman only known as Wang ran into one of the managers at the HR department, who asked her why she was not at her desk between 10:00 and 10:30 am the day before, jokingly adding that management would cut her monthly bonus if this behaviour persisted. The woman shockingly realized that the only way HR could have known the exact time she had been away from her desk was via the smart seat cushions, “I felt like I was being stripped naked at work, it was as if they had a tracking device attached to me,” Wang wrote. “All your personal data during workhours, like how long you spend at work, when you’re away, your mood, it’s all the hands of management, the HR department is apparently also allowed to access this information, so will our work performance be evaluated based on digital data?” the woman wondered, “We gave the cushions to our employees just to collect more test data, not monitor them,” the spokesperson said, adding that the generous gift was actually a pre-market test for the smart seat accessories. This explanation did little to calm spirits, especially since there was a lot that didn’t really add up.

An investigation by Chinese publication 21st Century Business Herald revealed that employees had been given consent forms for data collection, but only in English, not Chinese. A lawyer from the publication also alleged that the the company had violated privacy laws by allowing the collected data to be shared with other employees, like the management of human resources.

“If the company has informed employees about the trial before and get their approval, then this trial program is legal,” lawyer Yang Wenzhan said. “However, the consent papers sent to the staff were all in English, instead of their mother tongue.” as I mentioned, beware of bosses bearing gifts!

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