Corona and co-workers

Private companies also want to use Tracking Apps for internal “contact tracking” of employees: as a precondition for the alleged “new normal” in the world of work. The project carries great dangers, there can be no talk of" voluntariness". There are threats of surveillance measures that would have been unthinkable before Corona.

The official" Corona warning App " of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) is intended to help track infectious chains. International consulting firms have now designed something similar for use in companies and companies, as reported by the media. For example, a spokesman for the international auditing firm Price-Waterhouse-Coopers (PWC) currently stated in “Deutschlandfunk":

“Not only did we design an App, but we designed an entire ecosystem of tools to help businesses return to normal at the end of the day.”

PWC justifies the introduction of an “ecosystem” of tools for in-House employee monitoring with the “protection of employees in terms of Hygiene and infection risks”. The Software basically works similar to the RKI App, “but has a much larger range of functions,” says PWC. Because: while anonymity is a top priority in the RKI App, companies-in contrast to this – have a great interest in identifying individual and concrete cases and tracking contacts in the company, explains the DLF sympathetically.

Monitoring: “voluntary” use to “protect” employees

PWC wants to use the App in its own business, but also sell it internationally to other (according to PWC numerous) prospects. According to PWC, even a DAX group would already use the tools-which, is not revealed. According to DLF, other IT firms or business consultancies such as the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) have recognized that companies have a need for “pandemic control systems,” and are now offering them.

Most companies proclaim that the use of the Apps is based on the voluntary nature of their employees. However, this “voluntariness” is not given to the employer. The lawyer Ifeoma Ajunwa from the US Cornell University also told the Austrian “Krone":

“It will be dangerous if the data collected by the companies about their employees is abused. ( … ) Do you sell the data to an insurance company? To Data Dealers? To banks or car insurers, who then deny US insurance or increase loan rates? Anything could happen with that.”

According to Ajunwa in the Medium, there is also a risk of discrimination if bosses know too much about the employees ' private lives. In companies where Covid-19 is being tested, it is also an opportunity to analyse the DNA of employees – and then, for example, on this basis, particularly by covid-19, to dismiss people at risk rather than others.

Corona as “September 11” for operational monitoring

The “Krone” reports on further systems: for example, Tracking wristbands for internal employee monitoring (such as the company Microshare) find “Raging sales”. The business with image recognition systems is also “booming”: instead of using wristbands to monitor whether the workers keep their distance, this is also possible with systems based on artificial intelligence. Microshare CEO Mike Moran, for example, already sees the social and individual resistance to these measures crumbling: just as we found ourselves in the wake of the September 11 attacks, so we are now facing a new crisis. He said that by the end of September, people had become accustomed to increased security controls in public spaces, and that they would also become accustomed to more such systems in everyday working life. A common slogan now is that the questionable measures in the face of “the pandemic” are accepted by many employees because they want “themselves” the “best possible protection from Contagion in the workplace”.

Anna Elliott of the law firm Osborne Clarke, however, told the BBC’s “Crown”: “managers may be tempted to invade the private lives of employees. With whom does the employee spend his time privately? Are there Risk Factors for the company? “But such questions went too far, according to Elliott according to"Krone”. Nevertheless, some companies could invade the private lives of employees – alone, because at a time of high unemployment, hardly anyone would dare to refuse the boss, for example, to fill out an intimate questionnaire.

Fewer “hurdles” in companies than in democracies

The magazine “t3n” emphasizes that “unlike in Democratic states, there are” far fewer hurdles to be overcome” between employer and employee when “employers want to oblige their employees to use the App.” According to “t3n”, PWC promises compliance with high data protection and security standards. Access to the stored data should take place centrally. However, access is limited to a few people with Admin Status.

The Medium “Netzwoche” from Switzerland also describes such flimsy measures for “building trust”: according to this, PWC underlines the need for “appropriate Change management during implementation”. And the French bank Crédit Agricole recommends that “the use of your App should be based on a confidence pact between employers, employees and trade unions”. Crédit Agricole has also recently presented its plan for a” return to work”. According to “Netzwoche”, a COPASS application developed together with the IT service provider Onepoint enables the bank’s employees to monitor their health.

The “glass employee”?

In the same Medium, Sylvain Métille, a lawyer specialising in data protection, strongly questions the legitimacy and proportionality of the information requested by the employer, as well as the alleged “voluntariness”. In the” Netzwoche " he adds:

“The expert is also sceptical about the anonymity of the data provided. For example, Medikal Link’s solution asks for the employee’s phone number, and the PwC App asks the employee to provide information about their business department and the nearest city. This makes it easy to identify the employee in question in some cases.”

The fact that the highly problematic and until recently unthinkable monitoring techniques are justified with the “protection” of employees should not come as a surprise – but the citizens should not let themselves be led astray by these lip service.

Also, the tools now planned and already used by private parties – some of them allegedly illegal – have a completely different and more threatening quality than the official Corona warning App. And even with this more harmless variant of the RKI, there are doubts as to whether the (in this case voluntary) willingness of many citizens to have their movements partially documented is in proportion to the effect achieved. Just over a month ago, the federal government introduced the Corona warning App. Whether the App works as it should is still unclear, as" Heise Online " describes in this article: there are no indications of a significant influence of the App on the course of the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic in Germany.