The software was created to improve human contact in teleworking. But take a picture of each munuto. The digital rights expert: “Violates privacy (Gdpr) and does not protect the worker”
Sneek was born as a digital tool for the remote control of workers in smart working. But every time he takes a photo via webcam, one per minute, there is someone who trembles. Needless to turn around, even if the service on paper was born for other purposes. But if in the United States and other countries it is compatible with applicable laws, in Italy it is not.
The company defends itself against easy criticism on the privacy front. “Sneek was never designed to spy on someone, we would be the worst espionage company considering we called our app Sneek (to sneak, translated: spy), “said the company’s co-founder, Del Currie, to Business Insider. “We know that many people will find it an invasion of privacy, we understand it 100%, and it’s not the solution for those people, but there are also many work groups out there who are good friends and want to stay in touch when they work together. “.
How Sneek works
The project dates back to 2016, when the team of developers from the Anglo-American Analog Republic starts developing an application aimed at improving “human contact in telework”. The platform today has an essential interface that enables two-party or group chat and video conferencing. Compared to Google Hangouts, Skype, Zoom and other services, it does not just show an icon related to the online presence of users, but a real photo taken at cadenced temporal rhythms (1 minute, 5 minutes or manual) from your webcam pc so as to give the idea of who is connected and operating in real time.
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The main screen shows the constantly updated photos of colleagues. By selecting them with the mouse, you can instantly start video conferences or chats. Participants obviously can also report the status (engaged or free) and customize it. Furthermore, integration with Google tools and the Slack collaborative platform can be enabled. In practice, the promise is to give greater substance to the so-called “always on” compared to the “always live”, which respectively orbit in the spaces of the state and action.
The smart worker under control
But there remains some doubt about the violation of worker rights, as explained by digital law expert Fulvio Sarzana: “This is completely prohibited by the rules. It could not be possible for us; it violates article 4 of the Workers’ Statute relating to audiovisual systems and control instruments While in the United States everything is possible in the absence of the Workers’ Statute, in Italy it is necessary to check the rules on smart working that were issued on the occasion of the coronavirus, what are the modalities that have been adopted. even of a transitory nature, they may violate the guarantees provided by the Articles of Association “.
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The underlying theme is that Sneek introduces an insidious way, since it would be a “control over the activity”, Sarzana reiterates. “The scenario is different in the case of a videoconference where one operates with a consent method. Quite another question if one of the parties adopts control mechanisms”.
The Gdpr is the node of consent
The critical issues also concern the General Data Protection Regulation (Gdpr). “A service of this type should provide adequate information for workers in the circumstance that there is a surprise method for capturing images. Then there should be the possibility to also deny consent to the treatment (smart working, Editor’s note) since it does not it is necessary for the purposes of the working activity. In any case, beyond the working relationship, we are in the territory of the violation of the rights of the individuals foreseen by the Gdpr “.
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In summary, Sneek could hardly be imposed by companies on Italian workers, but for the private sphere there are no contraindications; as long as it is not provided by the employer – given that it is paid – or there is his consent for the use of the images. “For example, you may want to report a colleague of yours for something you have seen, or use the images for something else. Even more if other people who are not involved in the work were to participate in the sessions. In short, I do not see the use of this practicable service “, concludes Sarzana.
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So what about Sneek? Probably try it if you want to create a community of independent professionals or freelancers who work in telework, but to step if some company has an unfortunate Orwellian drive.