9 to 5: Do You Know if Your Boss Knows Where You Are?

Case Studies of Radio Frequency Identification Usage in the Workplace

by Edward Balkovich, Tora K. Bikson, Gordon Bitko

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Abstract

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags are finding their way into a broad range of new applications that have raised concerns about privacy that demonstrate how emerging information technologies can upset the balance of privacy, personal benefits, and public safety and security. Although proposed retail uses are new, RFID tags have been used to control access in the workplace for over a decade. The authors conducted a case study of six enterprises to understand their policies for collecting, retaining, and using personally identifiable records obtained by sensing RFID-based access cards. They found that RFID usage in the surveyed workplaces has a number of common features (data are used for more than access control, access control system records are linked with other enterprise databases, and security and employment practices trump privacy concerns), but that policies are not generally written down or communicated to employees. They conclude that although employees ought to be informed about uses of access control system records and have the right to inspect and correct records about their activities, implementing traditional fair information practices for access control systems records would be impractical for some situations, such as the individual’s ability to correct an erroneous record. Thus there is a need for a modified notion of fair information practices with regard to this use of RFID technology.

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