The Ethics of Workspace Surveillance
2008 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other scientific)
The general framework of this thesis is that of ethical Technology Assessment (eTA). Whereas the first essay proposes an inclusive approach to technology assessment by delineating an ethical checklist, the following essays focus on two of the checklist points, i.e. “privacy” and “control, influence and power”, in relation to workspace surveillance.
The core idea of Essay I (written in collaboration with Sven Ove Hansson) is that, due to its strong social impact, new technology and novel use of existing technology should be considered from the perspective of ethics. We suggest that assessments should be conducted on the basis of nine crucial ethical aspects of technology.
In Essay II an in-depth analysis of the meaning and value of privacy in the realm of work is undertaken. The meaning and value of privacy is explained as well as why it should be protected. It is argued that two dimensions of privacy should be safeguarded; “informational privacy” and “local privacy” for the reason that workers’ personal autonomy is protected thereby.
Essay III is concerned with how workspace surveillance requires that job-applicants claim their privacy interests in employment negotiations to a much larger extent than what was previously the case. In most cases however, a dependency asymmetry between employer and job-candidate makes the latter ill-equipped for doing so. This asymmetry serves as the point of departure for an analysis of the conditions under which consent should be considered a criterion on moral acceptability with regard to employment contracting. The analysis suggests ways of rectifying this imbalance, raising demands on the quality of contractual consent.
Essay IV discusses the extent to which it should be morally permissible for current or prospective employees to trade off their privacy in employment negotiations. The analysis starts out from, and questions, a libertarian case for voluntary self-enslavement. It is concluded that not even an orthodox libertarian can justify trade offs of a social good like liberty. Neither should employees be allowed to abstain informational privacy for the reason that such a trade-off could harm their future selves.
In Essay V a dimensional analysis is proposed as a means to identify actually or potentially privacy invasive surveillance practices. It discusses ways in which different types of surveillance intrude upon employees’ privacy in order to guide the evaluation of such practice. Even though negative implications cannot be avoided altogether, by means of the proposed analysis, minimally intrusive means of monitoring can be identified.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH , 2008. , viii, 81 p.
Theses in philosophy from the Royal Institute of Technology, ISSN 1650-8831
asymmetric relations, autonomy, consent, contract theory, contractualism, employment, ethical technology assessment, ethics, monitoring
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-4611ISBN: 978-91-7178-818-4OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-4611DiVA: diva2:13088
2008-02-07, Sal F3, KTH, Lindstedtsvägen 26, Stockholm, 13:00
van den Hoven, Jeroen, Professor
Hansson, Sven Ove
QC 201009022008-01-212008-01-212010-09-02Bibliographically approved
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