Toronto Metropolitan University

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Is There a Global Approach to Workplace Privacy?

posted on 2023-03-07, 19:42 authored by Avner LevinAvner Levin

This is a chapter in a recently-published book by the Globalization of Personal Data (GPD) Project at Queen's University, Canada. The chapter examines the extent to which the two main conceptual approaches to privacy in the workplace, the property approach, and the rights approach are supported empirically world-wide, by analyzing cross-jurisdictional data from the jurisdictions included within the project (Canada, US, Brazil, Mexico, China, France, Hungary and Spain). The property approach focuses on employer ownership of the resources that employees often use for private purposes such as computers and telephones. According to this approach, employers are free to dictate to employees the manner in which such resources will be used and employees only have expectations of privacy to the extent that employer policies allow. The rights approach focuses on the dignity and right to private life that is afforded every human being. Such rights can be balanced against other interests in the workplace, but never be fully ignored. Employees are entitled therefore to some minimal standard of dignity, privacy and a private life even while working and while using workplace resources, similar to their entitlement to other minimal standards such as minimum wages and health and safety standards. The chapter discusses the results of the analysis and the degree of their significance in light of the societal, cultural and political differences that exist worldwide.




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