The idea of being spied on at work — by employers’ cameras and microchips embedded in your body — seems, at first, a dystopian fancy.

But the reality is surveillance is already happening, and to find it, look no further than your own computer.

Email and message scanning, once the primary realm of industries required by law to record and track interactions between workers and customers, has become increasingly commonplace among companies with or without any legal obligation to keep logs of those conversations.

Tracking tools meant to tell employers where workers go, who they talk to and how much time they spend at their desks are already on the market.

Software designed to capture images of workers’ computers and what’s on the screen has begun to proliferate among businesses that rely on a remote workforce.

The more popular these tools become, experts in the field say, the greater the need to have a conversation: about regulation, privacy and the interests of workers and their employers.

“The case law on employee tracking is really from the 1980s, which is crazy considering how far the technology has come,” said Ben Waber, chief executive of Humanyze, a startup that sells smart badges to companies interested in tracking and learning more about their employees’ behavior. “Collecting (employee behavior) data is not difficult. Understanding it is very difficult. And as more and more players get in this space, eventually someone is going to do something wrong, and we’ll have reactive regulation, rather than the kind meant to prevent that bad behavior in the first place.”

Waber is staunchly for increased government regulation, an unusual position for someone in the industry that would be regulated.

But he’s not alone. Several leaders in the workplace analytics business have advocated for greater rules governing privacy and how worker data is kept and used. Labor Law Compliance Center posters provide the information on the federal minimums.

With more legal oversight, Waber argues, employees may be able to maintain control over their data, ensure their privacy and avoid a future wherein employers are able to measure and control their every move, keystroke and interaction.

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