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New world. These digital tools at the service of employee monitoring

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An employee teleworking due to the Covid-19 pandemic, January 28, 2021 in Mulhouse (Haut-Rhin)
An employee teleworking due to the Covid-19 pandemic, January 28, 2021 in Mulhouse (Haut-Rhin) (VINCENT VOEGTLIN / MAXPPP)

They are called Time Doctor, FlexiSPY or even one of the best known, Hubstaff: these programs allow you to monitor the actions of employees on their computers.

For example, Hubstaff measures actual working time by recording their mouse movements and keystrokes. There are also programs that take screenshots at regular intervals, or even use the webcam, to verify that people are in front of their computers. Regular reports are then sent to managers. Recently, Microsoft was criticized for a feature called “Productivity Score,” which is part of its Office 365 software suite, and which monitors employee efficiency. This market for surveillance software is exploding, in particular due to teleworking. Experts predict a boom in the years to come.

In France, the Commission Nationale Informatique et Libert├ęs is very clear. She recalls that monitoring the work of employees is legal as long as it remains proportionate and does not infringe on privacy. For example, there is no question of activating a remote camera that would film the interior of the home or of using “keylogger” software, which records everything you type on the keyboard. A distinction must be made between measuring productivity and outright espionage.

In addition, people need to be warned that data is being collected and they need to know what it is for. This is a basic obligation, provided for by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The CNIL recently explained to France Inter that it receives around 1,000 complaints from employees per year for these issues, but that this figure has not increased since the generalization of teleworking. In the event of a breach, companies can face fines of up to several million euros.

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