Surveillance, privacy and Work/Study From Home

As I’m diving into the readings, I keep reflecting back on the past several months and the experiences of working from home. I’m curious what sort of measures any of us had to deal with or observed to try and ensure “productivity” when we were not directly visible to our supervisors or teachers.

In a seemingly fit of prescience, Ars Technica, one of my longtime favorite tech-related media sources (that also maintains one of the best group of commenters I know of online), posted a story in early February right before the shutdown orders began looking at the current and future states of working from home and the applications we are using.

I figured it has some good info to share with the discussions of this week.

Tracking the future of remote workplaces: Apps, communication, and liability

Interesting, seeing as how I just got this email from Zoom Sunday morning (nothing sketch at all):

Personal Information Notice
This notice is to inform you of the collection, processing, and sale of certain personal information or personal data about you (“personal information”). ZoomInfo is a provider of contact and business persona information regarding business professionals for direct marketing purposes. Our customers are businesses trying to reach business professionals for sales and marketing and recruiting. You can opt out of our database if you want to; the best way to do so is to visit our Privacy Center at https://www.zoominfo.com/about-zoominfo/privacy-center. At the Privacy Center you can also submit an access request or review our privacy policy. Please continue reading below for more information about the information we collect, how we gather it, and how it is used and shared.

Categories of Personal Information Processed
ZoomInfo profiles business organizations and the executives and professionals who work for those organizations. We may have any or all of the following categories of personal information about you, past or current:

Name
Company
Office Address
Telephone Number
Email Address
Job Title
Job Function and Responsibilities
Education
Social Media URL

Purpose of Processing
ZoomInfo processes this information for direct marketing purposes. The information may be licensed to our customers for their sales, marketing, or recruiting purposes, or to other organizations who may license it to their customers for the same purposes (“partners”). The information is provided to customers or partners subject to restrictive license agreements that limit the use to those specified purposes and prohibits the unauthorized use or transfer of the information. ZoomInfo’s customers may obtain the information via password protected account-based access to our database. Our customers, or those of our partners, may use the information to market their services to your employer or to contact you about professional opportunities.

Lawful Basis
ZoomInfo’s processing of your personal information is based on the legitimate interest of itself and its customers to engage in direct marketing.

Recipients
This personal information may be provided, subject to restrictive license agreements, to ZoomInfo’s customers, it’s partners, or the customers of its partners. These recipients are business organizations who are permitted to use the information only for lawful sales, marketing, and recruiting. The substantive terms of ZoomInfo’s license agreements may be reviewed at https://www.zoominfo.com/business/about-zoominfo/LTC.

Period
ZoomInfo endeavors to provide the most accurate information possible to its customers. We seek to verify the accuracy of our information as frequently as possible and to remove information that we learn to be inaccurate. Thus, we intend to process the information we have about you for so long as it is accurate or until you instruct us to refrain from processing it.

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You have the right to request that ZoomInfo (1) provide you with access to your personal information, (2) rectify or correct your personal information, (3) erase your personal information, or (4) restrict processing of your personal information, including refraining from selling it or otherwise providing it to any third parties. You also have the right to object to processing, to data portability, and to lodge a complaint with the appropriate supervisory authority in your country, if any. The foregoing rights may be subject to certain limitations pursuant to applicable law.

Sources of Personal Information
ZoomInfo gathers personal information from several sources, which include publicly available sources such as websites and government records, contributions from our customers, third party data providers, or through telephone interviews. Because information from several sources may be combined into one record, it may be difficult or impossible to identify the exact source of one particular piece of information.

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ZoomInfo is ZoomInfo Technologies LLC, and we are located at 805 Broadway St, Suite 900, Vancouver, WA 98660. ZoomInfo is a registered data broker in the State of California.

To opt out or for more information, please visit our Privacy Center.

Regards,

ZoomInfo Privacy

Since the pandemic began I’ve been hearing all over the place about workplaces and schools that have pivoted to increased surveillance technology to meet outrageous productivity demands. It’s one of the sharpest examples of how tech companies and people in positions of power (bosses, administrators) are seeing the pandemic as an opportunity to consolidate their power, rather than an opportunity for humane responses. We will dig deeper into this in week 5 when we hear from Jasmine McNealy, a privacy researcher and professor at the University of Florida, as well as Kelly McElroy, LFI cohort 1 graduate who is a librarian at Oregon State.

I am the designated exam proctor at my library, so I have been trying to follow all the stuff going on regarding exams taken in this time. Last week I was reading about how the International Baccalaureate program decided not to do its usual exams to assess the grades of its participants. Instead it used a black-box algorithm to determine grades based on the student’s past performance and the performance of past students in the area. This has ended up scoring students much lower than they are expecting and in many cases derailing their college plans for this fall (https://www.wired.com/story/algorithm-set-students-grades-altered-futures/)

Then there was the issue where a proctoring company got called out for sharing a student’s chat log with the proctor online to Reddit without obscuring personal information (even then it would not have been okay): https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jul/01/ceo-of-exam-monitoring-software-proctorio-apologises-for-posting-students-chat-logs-on-reddit

There have also been creepy reports of proctors (who are being paid to watch people through their webcams) finding the students (mostly young women) on Facebook and messaging them. I was also seeing information that for the online Bar, exam takers are being told not to fidget, look around, or play with their hair as all of these can be considered evidence of potential cheating.