“Online Behavior Management software” : Management tool or privacy tool?

News of zhihu’s layoffs leaked online recently, and some netizens claimed that the company had installed a “behavior awareness system” to monitor employees’ online behavior and analyze whether they are inclined to quit.Zhihu responded that it has never installed and used a web-based behavior awareness system and will not use similar software tools in the future.The incident then triggered a discussion on the phenomenon of “enterprises using software to manage employees’ online behavior”.For what purpose do companies use such software and how?Does it violate employees’ privacy?On February 15, thepaper.cn (www.thepaper.cn) interviewed network information security experts, lawyers, and science and technology ethics scholars to answer your doubts.A network security industry practitioner introduced, enterprises use such “online behavior management” software, its purpose is to worry about corporate data leakage, to deter employees.Such software would infringe on employees’ privacy, he said bluntly.A lawyer expresses, unit of choose and employ persons for management purpose, below employee’s knowledge circumstance, can use this kind of management software to limit, if invade employee’s private domain, belong to tort behavior.At the same time, this real-time and all-round monitoring mode has aroused the concern of scholars concerned about ethics of science and technology. Between the basic rights of human beings as subjects and the rights and interests of the collective, which privacy should be biased?How to regulate the use of such technology when it has been widely used?A background picture of the system showed that an employee surnamed Ju visited the job search website 23 times, sent his resume nine times and had 254 chat records containing keywords.Some netizens claimed that Zhihu installed a behavior awareness system to monitor employees’ online behavior, such as browsing recruitment websites and submitting resumes, so as to analyze whether employees are inclined to quit.Later, Zhihu denied installing a system to monitor employee behavior perception.An employee of Zhihu told Thepaper.cn on The afternoon of February 14 that after checking, it was found that the source of the incident was a screenshot of a software system for monitoring employee turnover posted online, which was misinterpreted by some people and associated with Zhihu.”We declare that Zhihu has never installed and used the behavior perception system mentioned online, and will not use similar software tools in the future.”We have never had access to screenshots of the system online, so we don’t know its authenticity.””It is particularly important to state that the illegal collection of personal information violates Zhihu’s values, and we have always taken a firm opposition to such systems.”The staff emphasized.The behavior perception system mentioned above is said to be developed by the listed company Shenxin Technology Co., LTD. (hereinafter referred to as shenxin).Founded in 2000, Its network security business generated 3.349 billion yuan in revenue, accounting for 61.35 percent of the total, according to its annual report released in 2020, according to the company’s website.The paper noted that shenxin has introduced a product called “Online behavior Management” on its official website, with functions including online behavior audit, violation of online behavior control, enterprise information leakage prevention, Online traffic control, work efficiency analysis, etc.According to the work efficiency analysis function, it can analyze and predict work efficiency intelligently based on online behavior dynamics, so as to facilitate enterprises to take timely measures to reduce losses.Industry insider: Mainly used to improve work efficiency and protect information security With the fermentation of public opinion, this kind of technology and products to monitor the online behavior of enterprise employees have entered the public field of view, triggering netizens’ discussion, many people doubt that it brings the risk of personal privacy disclosure of employees.For what purpose is this technology used?How does the product work?And to what extent is it used?Li Shaopeng, founder of Digital Consulting and an expert at the China Cyberspace Security Association, told thepaper.cn that software to manage employees’ online behavior became popular around 2000 with the introduction of instant messaging software such as QQ and MSN.He said, such a whole network behavior management products in foreign countries originally called SWG(Web security gateway), mainly to prevent employees from accessing the Internet to bring viruses, resulting in external intrusion, and domestic become online behavior management.According to Li Shaopeng, the use of online behavior management software is mainly in private enterprises, public institutions, national units this situation is less.He explained that some enterprises do not want their employees to do things unrelated to work during working hours and worry about their employees chatting, Posting, shopping and watching videos during working hours, so they will use such behavior management software to monitor their employees’ online behaviors.But in Li shaopeng’s view, “it is normal [for companies to adopt] the operation and maintenance management model.”Companies that use such software generally inform their employees in advance, mainly to deter them, Li said.Of course, there are also rare cases where companies do not tell employees, but directly monitor their behavior and take action.As for the operation mechanism of online behavior management products, Li Shaopeng introduced that as long as employees access the Internet, network traffic will be generated.By setting up some detection keywords, protocols, specific websites, etc. on the traffic, to find out whether it is relevant to the outreach work.For example, if an employee frequently sends resumes to a recruitment website, the company may suspect that the employee is looking for a new job.In addition, the information captured by online behavior management products can be set, for example, enterprises set fixed monitoring websites, if employees visit, will be captured and sent text, email and other browsing records, but third-party communication tools generally cannot be captured.For example, wechat App has its own encryption mechanism.You Jing, who works for a private company in Jinan, Shandong Province, was warned by the company’s technology department by phone after downloading game software from her office computer, workers’ Daily reported earlier.”The head of the department was having a video conference, and the technical department warned me that it was occupying network bandwidth and affecting the video conference. If it was serious, I would report it to the HR department.”The employee handbook did list “no non-work related activities”, she says, but she did not expect to be “caught red-handed”.”This is common traffic allocation management in Online behavior management.”He zhe worked in product development at a head company that provides online behavior management services for companies.He revealed that online behavior management products generally include hardware and software, with identity authentication, application permission control, data analysis, security and other basic functions, to help enterprises monitor employees’ online behavior, the purpose is to improve work efficiency, protect information security.A person familiar with online behavior management products also told Thepaper.cn that the essence of such products is to prevent internal information leakage of enterprises.”Some people think that employees’ working hours belong to the company, but at all times, people have basic rights as free agents,” said The scholar.Wen Xianqing, an associate professor at the Institute of Artificial Intelligence Moral Decision-making at Hunan Normal University, believes that from the perspective of science and technology ethics, it is inappropriate to conduct comprehensive real-time monitoring of employees at work.He points out that in contrast to traditional business management activities, such as punching in, software monitoring is real-time and all-encompassing.”In this way, there will be more room for interpretation of behaviors at a certain point in time. It will become a monitoring of employees as a subject of rights and damage their basic freedoms and rights as personalities.Could the occasional cup of coffee, for example, be evidence of slacking?”In his view, the question that should be discussed in this topic is where one attaches the right to privacy to other rights, such as the safety or efficiency of a group or enterprise, or to the fundamental rights of the individual.He pointed out that online behavior monitoring is not only an issue of enterprise management, but also involves the basic personal rights of employees and whether the rights of enterprises and employees are compatible.”Given the widespread use of such software, we have to settle for the next best thing, requiring it to comply with some of the ethical rules of technology, such as informing employees about the existence of surveillance and what the company is using the data for.”Wen xianqing said.As for the future use of such technologies, Wen Xianqing believes that from the perspective of basic human rights, the national level should respect employees’ rights of freedom, privacy and security, and stipulate their scope of authority when industries and enterprises formulate monitoring policies and systems.Secondly, if technical tools are used to monitor employees’ behaviors, the legislation should guide companies to formulate a set of rules to clearly stipulate the collection, dissemination, preservation and deletion of employees’ data.Finally, the enterprise should have its own department to deal with relevant matters.Xie Xiaoyun, a professor and deputy dean of the School of Management at Zhejiang University, said in an interview with Workers’ Daily that many studies have proved that digital monitoring systems can damage employees’ work initiative, reduce their job satisfaction and cause negative emotional experiences.He suggested that enterprises should pay more attention to ethics, protect employees’ privacy and avoid the negative effects of digital management when designing assessment indicators for digital management.Companies using online behavior management products are not without legal risks.According to Article 1032 of the Civil Code, no organization or individual is allowed to infringe upon others’ privacy by means of spying, intruding, leaking or making public, said Ding Jinkun, a lawyer at Dabang Law Firm in Shanghai.For management purposes, employers can use the software in a limited way, with employees’ knowledge, to prevent them from deserting work or revealing company secrets, Ding said.The software can only be used for business purposes, within a limited range, can not invade the private field of employees, otherwise it is infringement, must bear legal responsibility.Employers have an obligation to protect their employees’ privacy, not violate it.For such cases, labor supervision departments should investigate and order employers to use software reasonably to manage employees in accordance with the law.Zhao Liangshan, a senior partner at Shaanxi Hengda Law Firm and a well-known public interest lawyer, also believes that if a company violates its employees’ right to privacy, according to the Civil Code, it should bear civil tort liability to its employees, such as stopping the infringement, making an apology and paying damages.Accordingly, employees can file a lawsuit to safeguard their legitimate rights and interests.(Original title: “Online behavior management software” : management tool or peep private tool?)Source: Thepaper.cn News process editor: TF027

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