Barclays is changing a system it was piloting that tracks how employees spend their time at work, after critical media reports on Thursday accused the bank of spying on its staff. Photo: Simon Dawson/Reuters
Barclays is changing a system it was piloting that tracks how employees spend their time at work, after critical media reports on Thursday accused the bank of spying on its staff. Photo: Simon Dawson/Reuters

Barclays backtracks on big-brother style staff surveillance system after criticism

By Lawrence White Time of article published Feb 20, 2020

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LONDON – Barclays is changing a system it was piloting that tracks how employees spend their time at work, after critical media reports on Thursday accused the bank of spying on its staff.

A Barclays spokesperson said it was changing how it used the Sapience software so it would now track only anonymised data, in response to staff feedback that the system was intrusive.

Sapience gives companies “insights into work patterns” and tracks employee productivity by monitoring their computer usage, according to its website.

CityAM newspaper first reported Barclays’ use of the software on Thursday, citing privacy campaigners who criticised the scheme as “creepy”.

Barclays said the system was only being trialled with a small number of employees, and that it was not designed to monitor how and when staff took breaks, as newspaper reports said.

Such systems are becoming increasingly common among banks and other financial firms, which use voice recognition and other behaviour-tracking tools to watch for unusual behaviour that could indicate misconduct.

In 2017 Barclays faced widespread criticism when it rolled out a system known as OccupEye which tracked how long people spent at their desks.

Introduced as a pilot last week, the technology monitors Barclays workers’ activity on their computers, and in some instances admonishes staff in daily updates to them if they are not deemed to have been active enough.



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