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07.27.20

Golden Cages Are Still Cages and Working From Home Can Become a Legal Mess

Posted in Europe, Patents at 10:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Even the most luxurious cages still restrict one’s most fundamental freedoms (ILO is still way behind wrt legal protections/safeguards for workers, just as FSF is failing to catch up with “clown computing” as a threat to users)

A wireless home office

Summary: There seems to be a misconception about working from home as emancipation and freedom enablement; legal issues aside, the reality is a lot more intricate than this

HAVING spoken to a number of people who work “remotely” (from home, i.e. locally) and having read about experiences of EPO workers, it seems clear that most employers typically want something in return for the ‘favour’ of “remote work” (like decrease in compensation or longer working hours/availability). Benoît Battistelli canceled many holidays and António Campinos gets people to work all night long while home-schooling/teaching. There’s no time off per se; people are always ‘at work’ (granting lots of patents of questionable quality, e.g. software patents that even the USPTO can no longer grant so easily, thanks primarily to Alice/35 U.S.C. § 101)

“It does not matter if one works from the garden or the garage or the bedroom, basement, home office etc. The rules remain pretty much the same and — to use EPO terminology — “production targets” stay the same.”I’ve just posted a little prose about “Glass and Metal Cages” or cheaply-made office buildings designed to accommodate people quite densely in an ‘open’ office where nobody has any form of intimacy (nothing discreet even when speaking on the phone or sneezing). It’s a rant about both “remote work” and “in-office work”; in both contexts labour forces tend to be exploited and abused, one way or another. Some argue that once they lose the separation between work and personal life it has a devastating effect on appetite, health, relationships and psychology. This is most likely to get yet worse, over time. Just as employees are adapting to the new conditions so do employers (bosses), looking for new and ‘innovative’ ways to spy on staff and oppress/suppress interaction with one’s surroundings… in one’s private space. It does not matter if one works from the garden or the garage or the bedroom, basement, home office etc. The rules remain pretty much the same and — to use EPO terminology — “production targets” stay the same. The stress and the fear are still there; one doesn’t leave them behind when finishing work and leaving the office to commute back home.

Peter Parker eating a hot dog: Going back home... ...I mean, back to work

Now comes the use and misuse of technology; when working from home one relies on an Internet connection (typically) and access to data, even confidential data. In a lot of cases people ‘take home’ with them a lot of sensitive data and there’s no oversight; that’s certainly true in today’s Facebook. And when taking espionage (government or corporate) into account things get creepier. On the other hand, there are those who work from home and stream over the Web — even against their will — audio and video from their private space. That data passes through companies whose employees are in the “surveillance capitalism” business (like Microsoft processing EPO tribunal streams). Certainly this is not legal, but EPO management does anything it wants anyway and always gets away with it. Many legal questions are still ‘up in the air’, mostly undealt with because “it’s an emergency” and a “crisis” (they tell us). As if not granting patents for a few months would cause the sky to fall…

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