Barclays backtracks on staff surveillance system after criticism

Tolga Akmen | AFP | Getty Images

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 spokeswoman said it was changing how it used the Sapience software so it would now track only anonymized 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 criticized the scheme as “creepy”.

Barclays said the system was only being trialed 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 behavior-tracking tools to watch for unusual behavior 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.

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