My last post led me to an interesting partnership between government and corporations called “OnGuardOnline.” Devoted to stopping spam and phishing, that partnership sounds like a good idea to me. But when it comes to extending its influence from fraud-deterrence to IP enforcement and beyond, it raises some interesting questions for libertarians. I would think they want *both* to avoid an Orwellian surveillance state, and to promote corporations’ economic freedom. But what happens when the two things go hand-in-hand? Does surveillance by “private” corporations suddenly take on a sinister cast only when its been turned over to government?
For example, the ABA Journal reports that Microsoft is developing new software designed to help employers keep closer tabs on workers:
“Big Brother” software . . . will allow employers remotely to monitor their workers’ productivity, competence and physical well-being to a degree never before seen. Among other data, wireless sensors will provide employers with workers’ heart rates and stress level, and determine whether they are smiling or frowning, according to the London Times, which bases its article on a patent application filed by Microsoft.