This is an interesting article from The Atlantic:
Surveillance technology isn’t just for the FBI and local law enforcement. Corporations see all kinds of potential for combining cheap recording equipment with other types of data collection.
For example, fast food joints, or “quick service restaurants,” as they are known in the trade, lose up toseven percent of sales to employee theft, according to the National Restaurant Association. Now, these retailers are fighting back with surveillance systems that allow them to keep track of their employees every move and punch of the register. Already, 90 percent of retailers monitor their staffs with video cameras, but combining the visuals with data from the register makes these systems much more powerful.
It’s not just fast food joints. All kinds of businesses are taking similar actions. A convenience store chain, Kum & Go, purchased a similar system from March Networks and described their experience with it in a whitepaper the company released. For a gas station, when someone fills up their tank but then drives off without paying, it’s a problem. But it could also be a managerial issue, too. How can you be sure that the person working the register didn’t take the money and then just say that a car drove off? According to Kum & Go, their surveillance system now allows them to see that latter process in action. “Well see the clerk pocket the money and hit the drive-off key,” a Kum & Go manager said. “We always knew this happened, but we could never prove it.”
All those little things that retail employees do? They’re open to algorithmic and video inspection. It’s a bad time to be an immature teenager working at Dunkin Donuts.
There’s nothing wrong with that, per se. Of course companies want to reduce the number of employees who steal from them. But some part of me squirms at this pervasive and increasingly intelligent monitoring. Would I really want my boss to have always-on recordings not just of my body but my keystrokes? Would you?
No, I don’t. Naomi Klein mentions this practice in No Logo, how more and more companies, starting with retail, do a daily end-of-the-day bag check to make sure the workers aren’t stealing anything. Inherent in this practice is the knowledge that workers cannot afford many of the items that they sell. It happens more as inequality worsens. And now, it seems like they are just as concerned with employee theft as customer theft.
My sense is that theft and crime are a byproduct of the economy and culture. When people are poor and desperate, they will do whatever it takes to survive. Also, when they are taught by fraudulent Wall Street crooks, politicians, and businessmen that the best and easiest way to become wealthy is to pathologically rob people…