PwC developed a facial recognition tool that logs when employees are absent from their computer screens while they work from home. In particular, there have to be a specific excuse for any absence (including toilet breaks).
Too invasive? No doubt. Disproportionate with no likely legal grounds? WP29 Opinion 2/2017 on data processing at work suggests a positive answer, especially given that the tool monitors employees in their private location.
Predictably, this caused a barrage of criticism from different privacy enthusiasts, followed by unconvincing explanations provided by PwC that this tool helps “support the compliance environment required for traders and front office staff in financial institutions”.
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At the same time, there might be much more than meets the eye: monitoring of employees from their homes may also occasionally involve monitoring of their family members through webcams. Besides, depending on technical peculiarities and an ability to scan the background in a private premise, such monitoring may also reveal some special categories data about, e.g., employees’ sex life or religious beliefs (Article 9 of the GDPR).
2 Replies to “PwC vs. employee privacy”
I will join those that see nothing good coming from the constant monitoring of employees in their private residences. This is Big Brother to the Nth degree and I agree with Karen – this is a ham fisted approach to stimulate employee productivity and compliance. If this is the way of the future, I am happy to go back into the office. Just another method to erase the difference between home and work.
IMHO control is not the answer to employee productivity. I am wondering in which context this tool will be used, which sector? The moving, for example, of the customer support function from the office to the home could be a likely scenario, but still surely a better way is to use Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) we are not any longer in the ‘time and motion’ (Taylor) studies which brought in the production line approach, removing the need for intelligent human thought from the creation of a product.
Where does this take us, and why is this relevant? PwCs product offering to businesses wanting to control employees from home, well we are forgetting that this is now the year 2020, not 1920, and this product has the technology of 2020 but context is all wrong. We, the world, have moved on.