With the rapid advance of technologies that enable constant connectivity, the once-sharp line between home and work began to blur over the last decade. Laws that govern employees' privacy rights were already lagging behind this reality when the COVID-19 coronavirus hit, and workplaces worldwide were suddenly converted into remote workplaces overnight.
Even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, California businesses braced for the significant impact that the new California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) would have on their operations. This far-reaching and the first consumer protection law of its kind in the country provides consumers rights associated with how businesses collect and use their data. The law, which took effect on January 1, 2020, was pushed by consumer privacy advocates after a series of data security breaches, like the 2014 hack of Sony associated with the release of its film "The Interview," which exposed its employees' emails and personally identifiable information.
To say that a large portion of the American workforce is facing uncertainty is an understatement. Reports of furloughs, pay cuts, and layoffs attributed to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic make the news regularly. Many employees who are continuing to work in essential services are being required to go above and beyond their regular job responsibilities in almost unprecedented ways or to change their duties completely.
For all of its ostensible benefits and efficiencies, widespread implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) poses significant danger to workers in the U.S. and elsewhere. As employers increase the amount of employee data they collect, so does the risk that the information will be abused, placing employee security and privacy in peril.
Today's computer technology improves exponentially from year to year, putting tiny, yet ever more powerful, computers in the palms of our hands, on our bodies, or even under our skin. With the proliferation of wearable "Internet of Things" devices, many new technologies that track our physical and physiological traits are moving into the workplace - yet, our privacy laws are struggling to keep up. This gap between technology and the law can put employees' privacy rights at risk.
This Sunday, May 7, the world will be watching France to see if the wave of populism that led to Brexit and the election of President Donald Trump will now usher in Marine Le Pen as the new French president. Le Pen leads the country's far-right National Front party and is up against the centrist Emmanuel Macron in this Sunday's runoff poll.