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Rio Tinto to use drones to monitor workers, privacy groups not happy

Staff Writer |
Rio Tinto plans to use drones to monitor the private lives of thousands of its workers living in camps in western Australia.

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The mining company announced in March that it has engaged French company Sodexo – which is also in charge of Australian prisons – to manage its facilities for 10 years.

These include three sites, six villages, three airfields, 15 operations, 42 housing accommodations, 134 commercial buildings and 3,249 residential construction sites.

Sodexo project director Keith Weston told The Guardian Australia that the contract includes transmission of information in real time from these facilities to a control station with 50 workers.

“Our goal is to get to the point where we can capture individual insights on where employees are spending their time and money and improve the quality of their lives,” said Weston.

“Over time, Sodexo plans to add sensors to light poles and rubbish bins, and we already have plans to start experimenting with drones,” he added.

Groups defending privacy rights have expressed concern and denounced that this surveillance can be used against trade union activity or aid informants.

After the publication of the article, a Sodexo spokesperson denied that drones were being used in Rio Tinto facilities assuring that data collection is done in accordance with Australian mining standards and laws.

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