Sale of Employee Surveillance Software Skyrockets During Pandemic

Yana Bostongirl

Surveillance software may not have been as widely used as it has been during the pandemic when many employees started working remotely. Commonly known as "Tattleware" or "bossware," tracking software is installed in company-issued devices and is then used to monitor employees such as the websites they visit, who they are communicating with, or even audio and video recordings.

This is what Harvard Business ethics professor J.S. Nelson had to say in an interview with TODAY: “You definitely need to think about being photographed. Listening through your microphone, keystroke logging software. So, recording what you’re typing at any given time, what websites you’re going to, who you’re communicating with.”

Jen Garcia, a systems engineer, resigned from her job when she discovered a surveillance program on her company-issued laptop. This is how she describes her experience to TODAY: “You’re looking at your machine most of the day, and it’s completely natural to check, you know, your personal email or something like that. And so, at any moment, you can have something potentially very private, exposed to your employer.”

Surveillance software is not only restricted to laptops and phones but also company-issued exercise trackers such as Fitbit which can track and store biometric data such as the employee's weight, heart rate, and body temperature.

While companies can claim surveillance software increases efficiency and productivity, employees are not happy with the invasion of their privacy. Employees can protect their privacy by using a personal laptop or phone for nonwork-related activities as well as finding a private area in your home to conduct work.

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