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OSTP Seeks Feedback Regarding Automated Worker Surveillance and Management Systems

The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has published a request for information (RFI) regarding the use of automated systems by employers to monitor, manage, and evaluate their workers. OSTP notes that while these systems may allow employers to manage supply chains, improve health and safety, or make other informed business decisions, applications of surveillance and monitoring systems can also pose risks to workers, including to their health and safety, equal employment opportunities, privacy, access to workplace accommodations, and exercise of workplace and labor rights, including their rights to form or join a labor union more efficiently and effectively.

As SWACCA highlighted in a post on October 5, 2022, OSTP released its “Blueprint for an Artificial Intelligence (AI) Bill of Rights,” which, among other things, stated that individuals “should be free from unchecked surveillance” by automated systems. The Blueprint noted that continuous surveillance can pose harm to workers, using an example of electronic monitoring intended to impede workers’ efforts to organize a labor union. Building on the Blueprint, OSTP is now seeking responses to a series of questions (listed here in their entirety) that collectively address the following topics: (1) why employers implement automated surveillance systems (e.g., safety and health, productivity, competition); (2) how employers use information collected through automated surveillance systems, including whether the information is sold or shared with other businesses; (3) steps taken by employers to solicit or incorporate worker input into how automated surveillance systems are adopted, implemented and used; (4) types of automated worker surveillance and management systems employers have implemented or are considering implementing; (5) how employers decide to use specific automated worker surveillance and management systems, including decisions not to use particular products or types of systems, to limit their scope, and relevant training; and (6) ways employers use the information collected through automated surveillance and management systems, such as for management, human resources, and business operations, including whether the information is sold or shared with other businesses or otherwise influenced by other businesses’ activities.

OSTP notes that it is particularly interested in responses to this RFI from the following groups, among others: (1) employers that use automated surveillance systems or are considering using such systems; (2) trade and business associations; and (3) worker organizations (including labor unions).

Responses to this RFI are due by June 15, 2023 and can be submitted here.

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