The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the phenomenon of everyday objects like phones, refrigerators, and cars connecting to the internet in order to send and receive data. While the IoT promises a future of convenience and control over our daily lives, it also presents challenges outpacing the current body of employment law. For example, security badges are becoming smarter than passive magnetic strips, bring your own device (BYOD) policies connected to employer-run servers are blurring the lines between work life and personal life, and the explosion of wearable devices utilized in wellness programs is a proverbial Pandora’s box of privacy and security concerns.
Employers lack clear guidance on how to handle privacy concerns with the IoT. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued guidance regarding privacy in the context of employee wellness programs, but has not addressed more general privacy concerns, including the ability to track employee movement.
IoT advances allow for greater GPS tracking of employee movement. But the ability to track employees does not end when an employee goes on a lunch break or heads home for the day. As a result, employers must be cognizant about any data collection that continues outside the workplace.
These very same privacy concerns also flow back toward employers, as the proliferation of connected devices that extend beyond the digital perimeter of the workplace each present a point of intrusion into workplace computer systems. An employee wearable that connects to employer networks can raise security concerns because for many hours of the day that device is beyond the custody or control of the employer.