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29-04-2019 | Issue 1/2019

Asian Journal of Business Ethics 1/2019

Privacy and beyond: socio-ethical concerns of ‘on-the-job’ surveillance

Journal:
Asian Journal of Business Ethics > Issue 1/2019
Author:
Jijo James Indiparambil
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Abstract

Current sophisticated technologies in the workplace offer inexpensive and user-friendly devices and the means to control ‘on-the-job’ behaviour. This promises high profitability, productivity and liability alleviation. Yet, it also gives rise to a socio-ethical crisis of incessant surveillance that often overrules its anticipated benefits and motives of control and care. The dilemma is twofold: First, scholarly studies undertaken on this issue from a principally administrative and legal point of view tend to lack a moral framework and so prove unable to offer an integral understanding. Second, a majority of scholars tend to focus exclusively on individual rights, such as privacy, even at the risk of overlooking its social impact and consequences. This paper thus aims to unravel these forgotten moral and social concerns. It analyses the surveillance frameworks and the arguments for and against it; scrutinises critically the technological devices most often implemented in the workplace; examines both its individual effects (privacy) and social effects (categorising); and proposes an ethics of workplace surveillance in a framework of trust and transparency. It argues, in all these ways, for an alteration or modification of traditional organisational behaviour within a new frame of reference, situated within and going beyond questions of moral duty, principles and legal compliance.

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