Software that enables employers to monitor their employees’ computer usage, including every site visited and e-mail sent, has been around in the United States since the mid-1990s, but some Japanese firms are taking it a step further with programs that monitor their staff’s every move, the Associated Press reports via Newsvine.
Masakazu Kobayashi, an associate professor with Tokyo’s Institute of Information Security, told the AP that a recent survey found that more than 30 percent of large Japanese firms keep tabs on employee computer use. Kobayashi also predicted that increased security concerns related to the recent series of data leaks would probably bump up that percentage, according to the AP.
“It’s scary. In five years, most companies will be doing this,” Kobayashi said at a press conference, the AP reports.
What’s more, a handful of companies are employing homegrown applications from companies like SEER Insight Security that allow them to keep track of their employees throughout the day via webcams that have the ability to zoom in and out on suspicious activity, according to the AP.
Some of these homegrown programs also allow employers to study e-mails sent back and forth between colleagues to determine inter-office relationships—or the lack thereof, the AP reports.
Since these forms of monitoring aren’t illegal in Japan, past litigation attempts on the behalf of employees have generally been unsuccessful, according to the AP.
“The message is clear—companies are telling their employees: ‘Behave yourself, because we’re watching,’ ” Kobayashi told the AP.
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