Employees Outraged As Company Wants To Monitor Performance By Installing CCTV In Their Homes
Employees at one of the world’s largest call centre companies have expressed outrage after being pressured to have cameras installed in their homes to monitor work performance.
In a contract issued to employees in March, call centre company Teleperformance sought to install AI-powered cameras in workers’ homes or on their computers, as well as to monitor staff via voice analytics and storage of data collected from the worker’s family members, including minors.
Teleperformance’s attempts to pressure staff to sign the contract were uncovered by an NBC News investigation, which cited six concerned staff members in Colombia, where Teleperformance employs 39,000 workers.
One Bogota-based employee who works on the Apple account commented, ‘The contract allows constant monitoring of what we are doing, but also our family. I think it’s really bad. We don’t work in an office. I work in my bedroom. I don’t want to have a camera in my bedroom.’
The worker explained that she signed the eight-page addendum to her existing employment contract because she was afraid she’d lose her job if she didn’t, with her supervisor reportedly telling her that she would be moved off the Apple account if she refused to sign the document.
She noted that the additional surveillance technology has not yet been installed, but the contract states the cameras would point at staff members’ workspaces to record and monitor workers in real time, and that AI-powered video analysis tools can be used to identify objects such as mobile phones around the workspace.
It also states that employees agree to share data and images related to any children they have under the age of 18 who may be picked up by the monitoring system, to sharing biometric data including fingerprints and photos, and that they will take a polygraph tests if requested.
According to NBC News, Teleperformance uses a software named TP Cloud Campus to allow staff to work remotely in more than 19 markets. A promotional video for the software released earlier this year explained that it uses ‘AI to monitor clean desk policy and fraud’ among staff working from home by analysing the camera feeds.
In an earnings statement released in June, Teleperformance noted that 240,000 of its approximately 380,000 employees now work from home thanks to the TP Cloud Campus product.
Teleperformance spokesperson Mark Pfeiffer said the cameras were used for spot checks of the company’s clean desk policy and occasionally to ensure workers are complying with data security processes and that no data is recorded from employees.
He noted the AI-powered video analysis was currently being tested in only three of Teleperformance’s markets, while the biometric data and polygraphs are used in specific security studies with employees’ consent. The company also acknowledged having asked workers to consent to sharing data relating to minors, but said that it did not share this data outside of Teleperformance.
Staff at Teleperformance are said to have been told by management that clients requested the additional monitoring to improve security and prevent any data breaches, though Apple spokesperson Nick Leahy said the company ‘prohibits the use of video or photographic monitoring by our suppliers and have confirmed Teleperformance does not use video monitoring for any of their teams working with Apple’.
Meanwhile, Uber said it requested Teleperformance to monitor staff to verify that only hired employees accessed the data, that outsourced staff weren’t recording screen data and that no unauthorised person was near the computer.
In response to the contract, some Teleperformance workers have submitted a set of demands that include less intrusive surveillance, though labour protections are weak in Colombia.
Yuli Higuera, president of the Utraclaro y TIC union that consists of about 100 Teleperformance workers, aims to get Teleperformance to recognise the union and agree to allow workers to organise without facing retaliation.
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