24/7 surveillance power given to irresponsible IT. WCGW?



  • IT department records the OP having sex through company issued phone and shares it around for a good laugh. Boss: Meh, whatever, deal with it. The OP is now asking for legal advice on reddit.

    Because of this policy we were issued cell phones that we have to carry at all times. This hasn't been a problem at all until now. Today I was at my desk and one of my co-workers came up to me and told me to go listen outside the door of the IT office. I heard moaning and thought someone was having sex in there until someone yelled my name. I had a sinking feeling I knew what it was, so I went in and low and behold I found all five of our IT guys rolling on the floor laughing at a recording of me and my girlfriend having sex, obviously taken from my work phone.

    My boss basically shrugged and said it was policy to use our work-issued phones, but that he would tell IT not to abuse their power and only activate the mic/record when they were specifically directed to by someone's superior.

    All the lawyers are telling him to sue the company, but that's to be expected in a legal advice subreddit.

    Personally, I find it amazing something like this was even allowed to happen in the first place. If OP isn't another troll, that is.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @cartman82 said in 24/7 surveillance power given to irresponsible IT. WCGW?:

    All the lawyers are telling him to sue the company, but that's to be expected in a legal advice subreddit.

    In this case, I agree with them. Legal precedents are a thing, if it's all true someone bringing that to court and winning is almost public service.



  • I love that subreddit. I do think it's a troll, that doesn't mean it's a uninteresting question.
    Now all we need is for his employer to landlock themselves.



  • @cartman82 said in 24/7 surveillance power given to irresponsible IT. WCGW?:

    Because of this policy we were issued cell phones that we have to carry at all times.

    I honestly do not understand how anybody could fail to perceive the mandatory carrying of a company cellphone as equivalent to wearing a prisoner's electronic tracking anklet.

    If I were ever to agree to such a condition - and fuck, the money required would need to be frankly astronomical - I would be setting up call redirection from the company phone number to my personal one, and consistently "forgetting" to connect the company phone to a charger.



  • @flabdablet said in 24/7 surveillance power given to irresponsible IT. WCGW?:

    I honestly do not understand how anybody could fail to perceive the mandatory carrying of a company cellphone as equivalent to wearing a prisoner's electronic tracking anklet.

    Our work phone is our cell phone - the company either issues a phone and handles the billing, you assign your billing to the company, or get reimbursed each month. I chose the later so I maintain full control over my phone. (Phones are required for 2FA - and we have to log in to the VPN even at work to access company assets.)



  • Sounds pretty much illegal, based on VT precedent --

    Vermont – There are no specific statutes in Vermont addressing interception of communications, but the state’s highest court has held that surreptitious electronic monitoring of communications in a person’s home is an unlawful invasion of privacy.

    And he's definitely got a case for sexual harassment and a hostile work environment. He should quit immediately, and sue them; he should not pay that early contract termination fee; this is constructive dismissal -- he didn't quit of his own volition; he was forced to quit. He literally has no choice -- no reasonable person would feel comfortable continuing to work with a bunch of people who've spied on him having sex with his wife.

    Of course, IANAL, but he should definitely acquire one. I bet he can get a good lawyer for a small retainer and a nice chunk of the company's going-out-of-business money that he'll probably receive.



  • @flabdablet said in 24/7 surveillance power given to irresponsible IT. WCGW?:

    I honestly do not understand how anybody could fail to perceive the mandatory carrying of a company cellphone as equivalent to wearing a prisoner's electronic tracking anklet.

    It's alright, work provide me with a tinfoil hat too.



  • Also, under Federal law, an employee who is "on call" cannot be "more than slightly restricted" in their liberty, or else they must be compensated for their on call time, whether they're actually called or not:

    under federal law, for an employee to be compensated for their on call time, their liberty must be more than slightly restricted, meaning he/she cannot use his/her time effectively for their own purposes. labor.vermont.gov [PDF]

    Being required to carry around a live camera and mic which your employer's I.T. department can tune into at any given moment is pretty fucking restricted. Not being able to have sex without them listening in is pretty fucking restricted. He should receive back-pay for on call for every day of his employment there (including weekends and holidays!), in addition to whatever else lawsuit he files.



  • The suit alleged that, in what was dubbed the "WebcamGate" scandal, the schools secretly spied on the students while they were in the privacy of their homes.



  • My suspicion:

    1. He and his girlfriend literally own the company now. Or will, after the dust settles from the lawsuits.
    2. A bunch of the people involved in this will end up in jail. Not just fired... jailed.

    If either of those things don't happen, he found a really shitty lawyer.



  • @anotherusername said in 24/7 surveillance power given to irresponsible IT. WCGW?:

    My suspicion:

    1. He and his girlfriend literally own the company now. Or will, after the dust settles from the lawsuits.
    2. A bunch of the people involved in this will end up in jail. Not just fired... jailed.

    If either of those things don't happen, he found a really shitty lawyer.

    Indeed. As soon as the conversation with his boss went not this way:

    Worker: This guy from IT spied on me having sex, using a company phone. Will he be fired?
    Boss: Into the sun.

    everyone involved is bound to have a really bad year (at least).



  • @Rhywden they would've had a really bad year either way. Questions would still need answers, like for starters "why did company policy make that even possible".



  • @anotherusername said in 24/7 surveillance power given to irresponsible IT. WCGW?:

    A bunch of the people involved in this will end up in jail. Not just fired... jailed.

    On what charge?



  • @blakeyrat What, can't you fucking read?

    @anotherusername said in 24/7 surveillance power given to irresponsible IT. WCGW?:

    the state’s highest court has held that surreptitious electronic monitoring of communications in a person’s home is an unlawful invasion of privacy.

    There is zero chance that "we can monitor your actions while you're working" can possibly justify "and guess what? you're always working because you're on call! muhahahA! we can watch you having sex and there's nothing you can do about it except quit!"

    Zero chance.



  • @anotherusername Right; but what's the criminal charge that would lead to jail time? Some States in the US have jailable harassment charges, that's about the best I can think of-- and I honestly doubt this qualifies as "harassment".

    I'm not saying it's ethical, or even legal. And I agree that these idiots should be fined to shit and back in a civil court.

    I'm just trying to figure out what charge you believe would result in jail time. Because I'm just not seeing it.


  • Grade A Premium Asshole

    @blakeyrat I don't know, couldn't that fit under stalking? Or "revenge porn" (if that's punishable with a prison sentence)? Or generally some law that bans creating and distributing pornography created without consent, under a criminal penalty - since one of the IT tech was showing it to others?



  • wiretapping?



  • @blek said in 24/7 surveillance power given to irresponsible IT. WCGW?:

    I don't know, couldn't that fit under stalking?

    I highly doubt it. It'd be a HUGE stretch and the judge would say so. (Harassment would be less of a stretch, but still a stretch.)

    @blek said in 24/7 surveillance power given to irresponsible IT. WCGW?:

    Or "revenge porn" (if that's punishable with a prison sentence)?

    Most US States do not have any laws against revenge porn. Sadly. I think they should, but most do not. (For States that do, I have no idea if that's a jailable offense or not.)

    @blek said in 24/7 surveillance power given to irresponsible IT. WCGW?:

    Or generally some law that bans creating and distributing pornography created without consent, under a criminal penalty - since one of the IT tech was showing it to others?

    That's more promising, if the law exists...

    I dunno, I think the reality is anotherusername just knee-jerked "PRISON TIME GUYZ!" without actually thinking about the issue. I'd be very surprised if:

    1. These guys got prison time, and
    2. Their jurisdiction even had a legal basis for giving them prison time for this offense

  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @anotherusername said in 24/7 surveillance power given to irresponsible IT. WCGW?:

    Also, under Federal law, an employee who is "on call" cannot be "more than slightly restricted" in their liberty, or else they must be compensated for their on call time, whether they're actually called or not

    Is "cannot be more than 15 minutes from a wired 10mbit Internet connection under either my or the company's control at any time" more than slight? Because I reeeaaaallllly want 16 hours of back pay every day for the past 3 years.

    I mean, the fucking grocery store is farther from my house than that allows.



  • @blakeyrat federal wiretap charges, for one thing.

    18 U.S. Code § 2510

    (1) Except as otherwise specifically provided in this chapter any person who
    (a) intentionally intercepts, endeavors to intercept, or procures any other person to intercept or endeavor to intercept, any wire, oral, or electronic communication;
    ...
    (c) intentionally discloses, or endeavors to disclose, to any other person the contents of any wire, oral, or electronic communication, knowing or having reason to know that the information was obtained through the interception of a wire, oral, or electronic communication in violation of this subsection;
    (d) intentionally uses, or endeavors to use, the contents of any wire, oral, or electronic communication, knowing or having reason to know that the information was obtained through the interception of a wire, oral, or electronic communication in violation of this subsection; or
    ...
    (4)
    (a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this subsection or in subsection (5), whoever violates subsection (1) of this section shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

    Up to 5 years prison, and that's just for one Federal wiretap act violation: only one of the many charges he has against them.



  • @anotherusername No fucking way these guys are going in prison on Federal charges, much less wiretapping charges. Maybe if they worked at the CIA, and the stuff the were listening to was in the Embassy of Qatar. (Oh wait, the CIA has a total pass.)

    The FBI wouldn't even answer the local police's phone calls.



  • @blakeyrat said in 24/7 surveillance power given to irresponsible IT. WCGW?:

    No fucking way these guys are going in prison on Federal charges, much less wiretapping charges. Maybe if they worked at the CIA, and the stuff the were listening to was in the Embassy of Qatar. (Oh wait, the CIA has a total pass.)

    So you're of the opinion that only really important people need to follow relevant Federal laws. Peons like us can just ignore them because even if we do something really truly horrible we're still much too small fish to fry.

    That's... good to know, I guess. Agree to disagree?



  • @anotherusername said in 24/7 surveillance power given to irresponsible IT. WCGW?:

    So you're of the opinion that only really important people need to follow relevant Federal laws.

    ... you don't know how the US legal system works, do you?

    The Feds (usually the FBI or DEA) don't get involved until:

    1. The crime involved a Federal employee, for example a postal carrier
    2. The crime is based on a Federal law with no equivalent State law (for example, in Washington State, marijuana consumption is legal, so in theory the DEA could prosecute marijauna crimes in Washington State under Federal law, due to the absence of any relevant local law. This is actually a huge bone of contention, but that's a different story)
    3. The crime involves crossing State lines in such a way that it's unclear which State should be prosecuting it
    4. Local law enforcement actively reaches-out for Federal help

    Federal involvement has nothing to do with "importance", it has to do with jurisdiction.

    And hey, as a citizen of Washington State: you're fucking right I actively ignore Federal drug laws, because fuck the DEA. They refuse to acknowledge our State's right to choose for itself, in a way that's blatantly un-American and un-democratic.



  • @Weng said in 24/7 surveillance power given to irresponsible IT. WCGW?:

    cannot be more than 15 minutes from a wired 10mbit Internet connection under either my or the company's control at any time

    I'm not sure what ours is exactly, but I'm often further away than 15 minutes. If I go too far from home I just keep my laptop in the car which I can tether to my Blackberry.



  • @blakeyrat there's also the VT voyeurism law:

    13 V.S.A. Chapter 059, Subchapter 001, § 2605

    (c) No person shall display or disclose to a third party any image recorded in violation of subsection (b), (d), or (e) of this section.
    (d) No person shall intentionally conduct surveillance or intentionally photograph, film, or record in any format a person without that person's knowledge and consent while the person being surveilled, photographed, filmed, or recorded is in a place where he or she would have a reasonable expectation of privacy within a home or residence.
    ...
    (j) For a first offense, a person who violates subsection (b), (d), or (e) of this section shall be imprisoned not more than two years or fined not more than $1,000.00, or both. For a second or subsequent offense, a person who violates subsection (b), (d), or (e) of this section shall be imprisoned not more than three years or fined not more than $5,000.00, or both. A person who violates subsection (c) of this section shall be imprisoned not more than five years or fined not more than $5,000.00, or both.

    That requires both consent and knowledge... even if they could argue that "consented" by signing his rights away, he still had no knowledge that he was being recorded at that specific time. And if you show the recording to someone else, the maximum sentence goes up to 5 years.

    The only caveat there is that you'd have to argue that the law applies to audio recordings as well as visual ones. That shouldn't be too hard for a good lawyer. You could at least pin them for attempted voyeurism since the camera was activated, and only the chance placement of the phone prevented them from actual visual recording; the penalty for an attempt is the same, even if prevented:

    13 V.S.A. Chapter 001, § 9

    (a) A person who attempts to commit an offense and does an act toward the commission thereof, but by reason of being interrupted or prevented fails in the execution of the same, shall be punished as herein provided unless other express provision is made by law for the punishment of the attempt.



  • @blakeyrat said in 24/7 surveillance power given to irresponsible IT. WCGW?:

    The crime is based on a Federal law with no equivalent State law

    There is no specific Vermont law pertaining to wiretapping. So the crime is based on a Federal law with no equivalent State law.



  • @anotherusername Well there you go, you've finally justified your dumb knee-jerk response with actual reasoning.



  • @blakeyrat said in 24/7 surveillance power given to irresponsible IT. WCGW?:

    @anotherusername Well there you go, you've finally justified your dumb knee-jerk response with actual reasoning.

    Would it kill you to simply say "you were right, I'll shut up now"?

    Anyway, what I should've told you when you asked what charges was "how the fuck should I know, that's a job for his lawyer and the police." But since I'm a curious person I wanted to know which laws applied and now you benefited from my research. Hope you enjoyed it.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place



  • @anotherusername said in 24/7 surveillance power given to irresponsible IT. WCGW?:

    Would it kill you to simply say "you were right, I'll shut up now"?

    Yes.



  • @blakeyrat said in 24/7 surveillance power given to irresponsible IT. WCGW?:

    And hey, as a citizen of Washington State: you're fucking right I actively ignore Federal drug laws, because fuck the DEA. They refuse to acknowledge our State's right to choose for itself, in a way that's blatantly un-American and un-democratic.

    TIL blakeyrat smokes pot, but obviously not enough.

    FYI, though, I'm not being judgemental.


  • mod

    Honest question: How is this different than watching porn on a company-issued laptop, and being caught by IT noticing your browsing history? Other than the immature "gather round and listen to this" bullshit of course.



  • @blakeyrat said in 24/7 surveillance power given to irresponsible IT. WCGW?:

    1. Local law enforcement actively reaches-out for Federal help

    Make up your mind, two post up you said

    The FBI wouldn't even answer the local police's phone calls.

    :rolleyes:



  • @Yamikuronue said in 24/7 surveillance power given to irresponsible IT. WCGW?:

    How is this different than watching porn on a company-issued laptop, and being caught by IT noticing your browsing history?

    Because they recorded an employee having sex without his consent using his company issued phone. The issue here isn't really what they were listening to but who it was and how they got it.


  • mod

    @loopback0 I'm not following.

    When you use company-issued computer equipment, they usually put in a clause letting them track all communications done via that device (your browsing history and communications back and forth). They have done the same on his company-issued cellphone, but that's now "unethical". Why?

    oh. OH! I've just understood while typing this: They didn't wiretap his phone sex, they recorded his physical life using the phone as a mic! Oh wow, that's fucked up.



  • @Yamikuronue said in 24/7 surveillance power given to irresponsible IT. WCGW?:

    They didn't wiretap his phone sex, they recorded his physical life using the phone as a mic!

    Bingo.


  • mod

    @loopback0 Okay, that's the most fucked up shit I've heard in a long time. What the actual fuck.



  • @Yamikuronue said in 24/7 surveillance power given to irresponsible IT. WCGW?:

    Okay, that's the most fucked up shit I've heard in a long time. What the actual fuck.

    Exactly.

    If that happened to me, I'd make two calls pretty much instantly. One to HR, and the other to a lawyer.



  • @Yamikuronue Yeah, it's clearly criminal. Peeping Tom laws come to mind.



  • @loopback0 and the police.



  • @Captain I'm sure the lawyer would recommend calling them anyway. And for that matter, so would HR probably -- if they're competent. They might even call the police themselves.



  • @Captain said in 24/7 surveillance power given to irresponsible IT. WCGW?:

    and the police.

    That'd be based on the advice of the lawyer, although I assume they'd advise that.



  • @Yamikuronue said in 24/7 surveillance power given to irresponsible IT. WCGW?:

    oh. OH! I've just understood while typing this: They didn't wiretap his phone sex, they recorded his physical life using the phone as a mic! Oh wow, that's fucked up.

    Don't worry, it also took me a minute to realize that it wasn't about phone sex using the company cell phone.



  • In fairness, I wasn't sure either way until I got to this line:

    There's nothing to see because the camera was pointed at the ceiling

    They're not just using the mic but the camera too.



  • @blakeyrat said in 24/7 surveillance power given to irresponsible IT. WCGW?:

    Right; but what's the criminal charge that would lead to jail time?

    Peeping Tom laws?


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @blakeyrat said in 24/7 surveillance power given to irresponsible IT. WCGW?:

    Right; but what's the criminal charge that would lead to jail time?

    You could make an argument for Peeping Tom laws, depending on what laws exist and what the penalties are in VT.

    :hanzo:


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @anotherusername said in 24/7 surveillance power given to irresponsible IT. WCGW?:

    Would it kill you to simply say "you were right, I'll shut up now"?

    Based on all past experience we have to assume the answer is "yes", or at least not "no".


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Yamikuronue said in 24/7 surveillance power given to irresponsible IT. WCGW?:

    Honest question: How is this different than watching porn on a company-issued laptop, and being caught by IT noticing your browsing history?

    Because it's IT that's watching (well, listening to) the porn.



  • My favorite part about working for Inedo is that they don't make porn of me.

    There are a lot of other good things about it, but that's my favorite right now.



  • @ben_lubar said in 24/7 surveillance power given to irresponsible IT. WCGW?:

    My favorite part about working for Inedo is that they don't make porn of me.

    OTOH, if they did at least it would mean that you were getting some action.


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