Is California Passing a Digital Surveillance Bill?

Digital surveillance has been one of the foremost concerns of the modern workforce. Interestingly, the California State Assembly is working on a bill that provides better workplace privacy to employees. It would also implement essential workplace rules, such as limitations on the usage of data-driven technology by employers. The Workplace Technology Accountability Act (AB 1651), introduced by Ash Kalra, will focus on reducing the use of unregulated data-driven technologies. It will also strive to eradicate the practice of digital surveillance in the workplace. In his article for Computerworld, Matthew Finnegan talks about the impact of the technical surveillance bill and how it could impact the industry.

Initiation and Impact of Digital Surveillance

The Amplification of Digital Surveillance in Modern Businesses

Digital surveillance became more prevalent during the pandemic. It was perceived as a necessity to analyze and track any organization’s work quality, quantity, and activities. Keystroke logging and webcam monitoring were some of the main tools that kept a record of employees’ activities. The California State Assembly bill has made three proposals to eliminate surveillance:

The company has to inform employees before collecting data through any monitoring tool.Companies have to limit the usage of monitoring tools and activities to only business-related operations.Employers have to conduct impact assessments regarding the data collection. It will help them ensure they are not interfering with employees’ privacy.

How Will It Affect the Business?

Ash Kalra further stated that this bill would not lead to a ban on technologies. It would question the use of intruding tools such as facial and emotional recognition that many companies use secretly. Ashley Hoffman, a policy advocate at the California Chambers of Commerce, is not in favor of the bill and calls it unworkable. Hoffman states that this bill would put unfair and unnecessary pressure on employers to review their collected data. 

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