Monday, May 23, 2005

Japan: Big Brother tracks staff

A JAPANESE security company has begun offering corporate customers the ultimate Big Brother service: a system that tracks employees both inside and outside the office, knows every door you have passed through, every drawer you have opened and can tell every piece of paper you have touched.

The sinister new “Protect 24” service from Secom is aimed at plugging potential data leaks by letting employees know that they are under surveillance throughout the day.

Its launch comes after several leak scandals, including embarrassment for the Bank of Japan when the new Y1,000 design made it into an internet auction, that have tarnished the reputation of some of Japan’s biggest companies.

The service means that each employee will be kitted out with a tracking card. Sensors on doors and other office furniture will detect where the worker is and keep a computer log. When staff are outside the building and carrying sensitive documents, employers can insist that they carry a small satellite tracking chip. For clients of the premium service, individual paper documents, CDs and DVDs can be tagged with wafer-thin chips that can detect who has handled them.

Yuji Mesaki, the Secom executive in charge of Protect 24, believes that the service will be of huge interest to Secom’s existing clients, and expects more than 1,000 to sign up within the year. The service will be offered in the UK, where it is expected to be in demand in the financial industry, as in Japan.


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