Deakin University

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A comparative analysis of opinions of Americans, Australians and Malaysians on the use of biometric devices in workplaces for security and monitoring of worker productivity

journal contribution
posted on 2006-01-01, 00:00 authored by Niranjala Weerakkody
Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York, the use of biometric devices such as fingerprint scans, retina and iris scans and facial recognition in everyday situations for national security and border control, have become commonplace. This has resulted in the biometric industry moving from being a niche technology to one that is ubiquitous. As a result. more and more employers are using biometrics to secure staff access to their facilities as well as for tracking staff work hours, maintaining 'discipline' and carry out surveillance against thefts. detecting work hour abuses and fraud. However, the data thus collected and the technologies themselves are feared of having the potential for and actually being misused - both in terms of the violating staff privacy and discrimination and oppression of targeted workers. This paper examines the issue of using biometric devices in organisational settings their advantages, disadvantages and actual and potential abuses from the point of view of critical theory. From the perspectives of Panoptic surveillance and hegemonic organisational control, the paper examines the issues related to privacy and identification, biometrics and privacy, biometrics and the 'body', and surveillance and modernity. The paper also examines the findings ofa survey carried out in Australia. Malaysia and the USA on respondents' opinions on the use of biometric devices in everyday life including at workplaces. The paper concludes that along with their applications in border control and national security, the use of biometric devices should be covered by relevant laws and regulations. guidelines and codes of practice. in order to balance the rights to privacy and civil liberties of workers with employers' need for improved productivity, reduced costs, safeguards related to occupational health and safety, equal opportunity, and workplace harassment of staff and other matters, that employers are legally responsible for.



International journal of knowledge, culture & change management






43 - 52


Common Ground Publishing


Altona, Vic.








Reproduced with the specific permission of the copyright owner.

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2006, Common Ground, Niranjala Weerakkody