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I work as front end developer for a company in Germany and regularly get asked to implement trackers in the products. In my opinion it is immoral to sell out your users to tech giants (and probably to the gov't in some countries) to receive some marketing relevant metrics in return. As far as I know there is a thing called freedom of conscience in German workplace regulations. Would this fall under that category? Can I refuse to integrate trackers without getting fired?

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You do have freedom of conscience but you do not have a blanket right to refuse work you were ordered to perform.

  • You have to perform work you were ordered to perform.
  • If you refuse, you can get an Abmahnung (disciplinary letter).
    • A second Abmahmung would be grounds for firing.
    • The Abmahnung is invalid if the work you refused would have been unreasonable – but you'd have to litigate this.
  • Your freedom of conscience does affect what work you can be reasonably asked to perform.
  • You have the burden of proof to show that the work would have been unreasonable.
  • You are required to alert the employer in advance. If you took a job where you could reasonably have been expected to know that it might come into conflict with your conscience, you should have mentioned this during the interview.
    • Taking the job anyway effectively waives your freedom of conscience.
    • Of course this doesn't apply if your job changed after you were hired.
  • If you successfully claim freedom of conscience, you are not entitled for pay for the work that you didn't perform.

Here, your claim of freedom of conscience does not seem to stand on very strong footing.

  • It is normal for web development to include analytics, ads, and social integrations (what you seem to call “trackers”).
    • This is a bit like taking a job as a nurse and claiming “my conscience doesn't allow me to perform blood transfusions” or taking a job at a defense contractor and claiming “my conscience doesn't allow me to work on weapons”.
  • Your personal conscience may be more strict than applicable laws, but don't forget that there are laws.
    • You might reasonably see it as your professional obligation to alert stakeholders of their compliance obligations.
    • You have a stronger case for refusing work than the difficult to prove “freedom of conscience” if the work you are asked to perform would be illegal.
  • You'd have a stronger argument for exercising your freedom of conscience if your work would endanger users that live under oppressive governments.
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    Unless allowed by the relevant data policy published by the company (also depending on applicable legislation such as EU-GDPR), it may be illegal to add those trackers. In that case, refusing the work with an indication to the policy may be unobjectable - but only until e.g. the policy text gets adjusted. – Hagen von Eitzen Apr 14 at 21:15

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