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BEIJING DAILY

China Plugs In Big Brother Technology To Track Workers

BEIJING —Using technology to get the most out of your workers, it seems, is a goal shared by employers around the world. From Silcon Valley to Shanghai, punch cards and time clocks are being upgraded with biometric tracking, fingerprint recognition and facial scanning to avoid fraud such as so-called "buddy clocking."

But now, Bejing Dailyreports, there are a whole new set of tools that Chinse companies are using to guard against workers slacking off. When an employee arrives at the office or factory, his smartphone connects automatically to the company Wi-Fi to track his presence. Other companies are using location-based social plug-in apps such as WeChat to track not only whether a worker is on site, but also precisely where.

Some workers actually see an upside: "I used to arrive at work at least 10 minutes earlier than my start time, but there was always a queue of people in front of me clocking in that made it really stressful," Yuhan told the Bejing Daily. "Now I am no longer anxious every morning about being fined."

But most of those interviewed don't like all the new eyes. "I can't go anymore in the toilet just to make a few phone calls, or check up on the Internet," one worker who gave his name as Hong lamented. "Big Brother is always watching you."

The use of mobile apps is particularly effective for bosses who want to track their employees' working hours and location when dispatched for work out in the field.

"Now I'm required to send a geographical indication and a selfie to my section chief through a social-media service, once in the morning and another time at the end of the day, to prove that I really am where I'm supposed to be working," grumbled one employee.

But there's more: To be sure that a photo isn't faked in advance, workers are required to take selfies in a particular pose that the boss indicates at the last minute. It's a bit like the digital world's version of photographs of kidnapping victims holding the newspaper to prove the date it was taken. So much for Internet freedom.

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