Torin Monahan Monahan

The Creepy, Intrusive Ways You're Being Spied on at Work

The following is an excerpt from SuperVision: An Introduction to the Surveillance Society (University of Chicago Press, 2012), by John Gilliom and Torin Monahan. Click here to buy a copy of the book. 

It was the moment Anna had been dreading. Ever since a coworker logged in to Anna’s computer and sent the boss an e-mail saying, “I’m now in the office,” she’d known it might come back to bite her. And it did. Here she was, standing in front of him, tears welling, trying to explain that she didn’t tell her coworker to lie about what time she arrived. The boss didn’t care, and he certainly didn’t believe her. After all, his computer system had discovered the “fact” of the erroneous e-mail, and he was pleased with himself for unearthing a contradiction in Anna’s record.

Because she typically got to the office at 6:00 a.m., well before any of the managers, Anna was supposed to send the boss an e-mail, and its time stamp would serve as a clock-in time. Her coworker thought she was doing her a favor by clocking her in when she was late for work. But the boss was suspicious—and maybe had way too much time on is hands. So he logged in to the electronic system for the building’s parking garage, pulled up the time she swiped her parking card, and compared that with the time posted on the e-mail. Discrepancy discovered! The e-mail was sent forty-five minutes before Anna’s car entered the garage.

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