Privacy campaigners express alarm after company contracts Sodexo to ‘capture individual insights’ from staff in Western Australian mining camps. Speaking to the Guardian on condition of anonymity, a Rio Tinto employee said the data gathering would distract workers. “It will lead to unwanted psychological stress which will lead to extra pressure and loss of focus on the job,” he said. “How focused can you be knowing there’s drones or cameras constantly watching you everywhere you go? We are exposed to a dangerous job, let’s not forget it.”

In July the Western Mine Workers’ Alliance raised concerns about new surveillance measures at Western Turner iron ore mine in the Pilbara, where workers noticed CCTV cameras had been installed. The union claimed employees only realised they were being watched after hearing supervisors comment about their new ability to “zoom right in” on workers. “This was a concern on many levels not least privacy, anyone who has worked in a remote area of a mine site knows that toilet facilities are few and far between,” the union noted.

Sue Crock, the coordinator of the mining sector mental health service This Fifo Life, said the mental health impact would vary from worker to worker. “For our wellbeing it is important we feel we have autonomy over our lives, decisions we make and how we live,” she said. “Being monitored can decrease this sense of autonomy and control. Some people like the sense of security it gives them by having clear rules and monitoring. For others it can feel invasive and an infringement of their rights.”

David Vaile, vice-chair of the Australian Privacy Foundation, said the scale of the planned smart infrastructure meant it could be used for all sorts of purposes, including cracking down on union activity, finding out if employees were visiting sex workers, pinpointing the source of leaks (of the whistleblower variety, not the water kind), and helping law enforcement with criminal investigations. “I’m not saying they would do any of that and obviously there are lots of potential benefits for workers and the company, the question is whether the data is safe,” he says.

“Sodexo and Rio Tinto are sort of custodians in this – there could be a lot of personal data in there. Protecting it becomes difficult, and exploiting it becomes tempting. If they want to appear trustworthy, they would want to undertake some sort of open privacy impact assessment. Once you break someone’s confidentiality, you can’t go back and fix it.”

Alles bij de bron; TheGuardian[Thnx-2-Niek]


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