Time and Attendance Biometrics and Employee Privacy

Earlier this week, city employees who work at the fine arts museums in San Francisco stormed City Hall to protest a biometric time clock that will be used to track their time and attendance. The employees are citing trust and privacy issues as the reason for their discomfort with the technology. While the City of San Francisco is not using nettime solutions as their time and attendance solution provider, this story piqued our interest because so many of our clients rely on our biometric fingerprint technology to eradicate time theft.

Here’s the story from ABC channel 7 news in San Francisco.

While every biometric clock manufacturer is different, here at nettime solutions, our netone cloud clock doesn’t actually store a fingerprint; rather, it stores an algorithmic value based on some measurements made of the fingerprint. The program searches for minutiae points within a fingerprint, identifies patterns and trends, and produces a mathematical template — and that’s what is stored.

So, could someone take a mathematical template and re-build a fingerprint? Let’s explore this analogy:

If you were at Location A and were asked to travel to Location B, could you make your way back to Location A? Yes. But what if you had no idea where your initial location was, and let’s say you were blindfolded and then dropped off at Location B. Could you make your way back to Location A?

Attempting to translate the mathematical template of a biometric fingerprint reader on a time clock would be just like attempting to return to a place of unknown origin. Highly unlikely.

Here’s what IS likely. Time theft (in all forms) results in lower productivity and poor morale, and biometric clocks can help lower costs for organizations while rebuilding trust. The employees in this particular story feel their employer’s decision to bring biometric time clocks on site means there is employer distrust, but this technology will also hold the employer accountable for paying its employees the wages they have rightly earned.

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