San Francisco Workers Rally Against Biometric Tracking

Biometric Time and AttendenceSome city workers in San Francisco are protesting against the implementation of biometric attendance tracking systems in their workplaces, according to an article by Hannah Albarazi in The San Francisco Appeal. The workers are employees of the de Young and Legion of Honor museums.

The workers organized a rally at city hall, and proceeded to go door to door in city offices asking for petition signatures from the city’s mayor and others. They see it as a privacy and personal security concern, arguing that the collection of their thumbprints (as required by the contractor setting up the systems) makes that information susceptible to hacks and theft, and that unlike a password or other such credential, they cannot replace their thumbprints after such an event. In a letter to the mayor and the city’s Board of Supervisors, union representatives said that “a biometric clock is a violation of employees’ rights to personal security and serves to foster a surveillance culture.”

It’s a concern that could play out at many more areas of employment as these kinds of biometric systems continue to garner appeal from employers and managers. We’ve already seen biometric clocking systems deployed with little push-back in areas such as a Mexican bakery chain and a recreation centre in the UK, but presumably in those cases employees did not have unions to represent their concerns. Recently there was some significant resistance against a biometric deployment in the form of a lawsuit against Honeywell, but in that situation the stakes were perhaps higher or more immediate, the technology having been used to determine health insurance eligibility.

February 27, 2015 – by Alex Perala