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Old 12-06-2010, 08:30 PM   #1
KyndGroove
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How do libertarians balance property rights against privacy rights?

I was wondering today about how libertarians think property rights should be balanced against privacy rights.

For instance, an employer issues blackberries to his employees. Should the employer have a right to use his blackberries’ GPS tracking capabilities to see where his employees are during the hours for which he is paying those employees to work? Assuming the employer’s property rights should allow him to be able to track his employees in this manner, should the employees have a right to be notified in advance that they will be subject to this tracking? What if the employer simply explains to each employee upon issuing them a blackberry that the phone has GPS tracking capabilities, but does not notify them that he intends to potentially use the feature to track their movements? Are the answers any different if we are talking about a public rather than the private sector employer?

I have at best an executive-level view of the party's platform, so if anyone knows how libertarians tend to think about these kinds of conflicts that would seem to come up within their ideology, I'd be much obliged to hear your take.
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Old 12-06-2010, 09:01 PM   #2
TomVeil
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Re: How do libertarians balance property rights against privacy rights?

I have no problem with tracking phones on the job. People who lie about where they are and if they are working should be fired.
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Old 12-06-2010, 09:02 PM   #3
General Tsao
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Re: How do libertarians balance property rights against privacy rights?

in your minarchist world, TV, do the employees have to be notified about the tracking?
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Old 12-06-2010, 09:03 PM   #4
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Re: How do libertarians balance property rights against privacy rights?

That's a little more tricky. I don't THINK so, although I would heavily imply it during the post-hire speech.

Edit: Bad wording. I would 100% tell my employees. Legally I don't think so.
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Old 12-06-2010, 09:05 PM   #5
General Tsao
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Re: How do libertarians balance property rights against privacy rights?

If an employer were to issue laptops to his employees with pre-installed web cams, should he be allowed to remotely turn those cameras on whenever he wants?
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Old 12-06-2010, 09:07 PM   #6
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Re: How do libertarians balance property rights against privacy rights?

Nope. Nor should he be allowed to turn on the audio part of the blackberry and record conversations.
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Old 12-06-2010, 09:16 PM   #7
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Re: How do libertarians balance property rights against privacy rights?

How is that any different (except in scale) to tracking his employees by GPS. It is still a flagrant breach of his employees privacy.
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Old 12-06-2010, 09:17 PM   #8
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Re: How do libertarians balance property rights against privacy rights?

Because I don't think that tracking his employees is a flagrant breach of privacy, ldo.

Edit: As long as we're talking about during company time. Obviously checking the GPS and seeing that Taso is at the gay bar and punishing him for that would be unacceptable.
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Old 12-06-2010, 09:21 PM   #9
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Re: How do libertarians balance property rights against privacy rights?

How is it not a breach of privacy? My boss has no right to track my every move unless I agree to it, just like he has no right to see or hear my conversations. Privacy clearly includes the right to not be tracked. If the government did this you would surely be yelling "breach of privacy!" from the rooftops.
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Old 12-06-2010, 09:28 PM   #10
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Re: How do libertarians balance property rights against privacy rights?

Don't semis already have something like this?
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Old 12-06-2010, 09:40 PM   #11
General Tsao
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Re: How do libertarians balance property rights against privacy rights?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Not_In_My_Name View Post
How is it not a breach of privacy? My boss has no right to track my every move unless I agree to it, just like he has no right to see or hear my conversations. Privacy clearly includes the right to not be tracked. If the government did this you would surely be yelling "breach of privacy!" from the rooftops.
I agree with this, I think. I would stipulate that one's boss has should be able to track your movements whether or agree to it or not, so long as he notifies you of it. Just to clarify what I mean by that, because that's an ugly sentence, if the employer has notified the employee, the employee can't say "no you can't track me and I'm still going to work here", that is, the employee doesn't have some mystical right to work at that job. If those are presented as the terms of employment, the prospective employee has the opportunity to say "Okay, I'll find some other job then, thanks, bye."

I also don't see a difference between tracking, audio recording or video recording, in principle. Clearly, as NIMN pointed out, these things are probably progressively more invasive, but if you believe one is acceptable, I don't see why all three wouldn't be.
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Old 12-06-2010, 09:43 PM   #12
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Re: How do libertarians balance property rights against privacy rights?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Not_In_My_Name View Post
How is it not a breach of privacy? My boss has no right to track my every move unless I agree to it, just like he has no right to see or hear my conversations. Privacy clearly includes the right to not be tracked. If the government did this you would surely be yelling "breach of privacy!" from the rooftops.
Because part of your employment is that you will be working. If you're going "out on a call" but then go to the bar, you should be punished for that. In the RL scenario that I know of which this has happened, the installation people were going to a job and then heading out to the bar for an hour or so before they called in that they were "done".
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Old 12-06-2010, 09:43 PM   #13
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Re: How do libertarians balance property rights against privacy rights?

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Don't semis already have something like this?
Probably. I would imagine company cars would be able to be tracked any number of ways.
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Old 12-06-2010, 09:45 PM   #14
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Re: How do libertarians balance property rights against privacy rights?

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Originally Posted by Not_In_My_Name View Post
If the government did this you would surely be yelling "breach of privacy!" from the rooftops.
Government, whose rules we are forced to follow, must be held to a much higher standard than private companies, who enforce rules on their employees on a voluntary basis (the employee having chosen to work there in the first place and reserving the right to terminate the relationship).
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Old 12-06-2010, 09:46 PM   #15
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Re: How do libertarians balance property rights against privacy rights?

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Originally Posted by Taso View Post
I agree with this, I think. I would stipulate that one's boss has should be able to track your movements whether or agree to it or not, so long as he notifies you of it. Just to clarify what I mean by that, because that's an ugly sentence, if the employer has notified the employee, the employee can't say "no you can't track me and I'm still going to work here", that is, the employee doesn't have some mystical right to work at that job. If those are presented as the terms of employment, the prospective employee has the opportunity to say "Okay, I'll find some other job then, thanks, bye."
Sure.

Quote:
I also don't see a difference between tracking, audio recording or video recording, in principle. Clearly, as NIMN pointed out, these things are probably progressively more invasive, but if you believe one is acceptable, I don't see why all three wouldn't be.
Because the latter are too invasive for what the employer needs to know.
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Old 12-06-2010, 09:46 PM   #16
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Re: How do libertarians balance property rights against privacy rights?

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Originally Posted by AKSpartan View Post
Government, whose rules we are forced to follow, must be held to a much higher standard than private companies, who enforce rules on their employees on a voluntary basis (the employee having chosen to work there in the first place and reserving the right to terminate the relationship).
Exactly.
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Old 12-06-2010, 09:48 PM   #17
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Re: How do libertarians balance property rights against privacy rights?

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Originally Posted by AKSpartan View Post
Government, whose rules we are forced to follow, must be held to a much higher standard than private companies, who enforce rules on their employees on a voluntary basis (the employee having chosen to work there in the first place and reserving the right to terminate the relationship).
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Exactly.
But we were discussing the employee not knowing about the invasion of privacy. If the employee doesn't know, how can they terminate based on what they don't know??
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Old 12-06-2010, 09:54 PM   #18
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Re: How do libertarians balance property rights against privacy rights?

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Originally Posted by AKSpartan View Post
Government, whose rules we are forced to follow, must be held to a much higher standard than private companies, who enforce rules on their employees on a voluntary basis (the employee having chosen to work there in the first place and reserving the right to terminate the relationship).
Yeah, and entering into a voluntary relationship means little if information such as "I'm going to track your every move on GPS" is kept from someone. You can't make claims about volntary interactions when one party is witholding information.

I don't see how this is any different to government secretly doing it without telling the citizen. In both situations an invasion of privacy occurs without the consent of the monitored party.
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Old 12-06-2010, 09:55 PM   #19
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Re: How do libertarians balance property rights against privacy rights?

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Originally Posted by TomVeil View Post
Sure.



Because the latter are too invasive for what the employer needs to know.
I mean wouldn't you wanna know if your employees were actually working or just jacking off????
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Old 12-06-2010, 09:57 PM   #20
General Tsao
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Re: How do libertarians balance property rights against privacy rights?

of course tom veil would.

the question is, would a regular employer want to know that information? the answer is still yes.
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Old 12-06-2010, 10:26 PM   #21
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Re: How do libertarians balance property rights against privacy rights?

When you ask if such unannounced invasions of employee privacy should be considered a violation of the rights of employees, what do you mean? Are you asking if there should be laws prohibiting such actions by employers/laws compelling them to notify their employees? The libertarian response, in my opinion, is that the government should make no law imposing rules as to how a company is to deal with their employees, so long as the employment is voluntary. If the surveillance of the employee by the company violates the employee's contract, then the employee has a case for legal action, but otherwise the government should stay out of their affairs.

I think it's unethical to do this without the employee's knowledge, but is it immoral? I think not. If the employee is expected to be at a certain place at a certain time, is it wrong for the employer to verify this through whatever means is most convenient?

Say an employer (who previously never tracked any employees by GPS because he had no reason to) starts tracking the location of one employee using GPS because he's suspicious that they're not doing their job, and this is the easiest means for him to check if the employee is where they're supposed to be. Is there anything wrong with doing this without the employee's knowledge?

The difference between this case and the OP's case was not something he had planned when he hired his employees and was only focused on one employee that he was legitimately suspicious of.
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Old 12-06-2010, 10:29 PM   #22
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Re: How do libertarians balance property rights against privacy rights?

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Originally Posted by jester710 View Post
Don't semis already have something like this?
They track the semis. They don't place the tracker on the person.
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Old 12-06-2010, 10:34 PM   #23
General Tsao
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Re: How do libertarians balance property rights against privacy rights?

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Originally Posted by AKSpartan View Post
Are you asking if there should be laws prohibiting such actions by employers/laws compelling them to notify their employees? The libertarian response, in my opinion, is that the government should make no law imposing rules as to how a company is to deal with their employees, so long as the employment is voluntary. If the surveillance of the employee by the company violates the employee's contract, then the employee has a case for legal action, but otherwise the government should stay out of their affairs.
By this reasoning an employer should be allowed to rape an employee, so long as they didn't have a contract stipulating that employer/employee rape is not allowed?

This isn't some special relationship which is bound by different codes. If a friend gives you a phone which has a secret tracking chip in it, you would have some case against him for a violation of privacy. The friend, like the employer, should be required to notify the recipient that the phone has a tracking chip in it. Let the friend/employee decide if they want to accept that item, then.
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Old 12-06-2010, 10:39 PM   #24
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Re: How do libertarians balance property rights against privacy rights?

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Originally Posted by Huehuecoyotl View Post
They track the semis. They don't place the tracker on the person.
The semi, like the phone, isn't going to move anywhere of its own free will.

I think the assumption in the OP is that carrying the phone on the clock is as expected as a trucker being in/around his semi.
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Old 12-06-2010, 11:18 PM   #25
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Re: How do libertarians balance property rights against privacy rights?

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By this reasoning an employer should be allowed to rape an employee, so long as they didn't have a contract stipulating that employer/employee rape is not allowed?
Uh, maybe if we're assuming ACland. Either way, this thread is about invasion of privacy, not rape. GTFO
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