Barclays 'spyware' monitors employee productivity

Occurred: February 2020

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The introduction of software that monitored Barclays' employee activity and performance met with a backlash and resulted in the bank halting its trial. 

A whistleblower revealed to CityAm that the Sapience Analytics software monitored how long staff stayed at and how effective they are at their desks, told them to 'avoid breaks' and recorded toilet trips as 'unaccounted activity.'

Automated warnings were also fired at employees judged to be away from their computers for too long, or if they had been spending too long on a particular task.

The whistleblower alleged that the 'spyware' monitoring had resulted in additional stress, and had sparked a backlash. Barclays had responded that it had been using the software 'to tackle issues such as individual over-working as well as raise general productivity.' 

In March 2022, a UK Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) investigation concluded that the action warranted 'no further action', according (pdf) to a Freedom of Information request response.

Operator: Barclays Corporate and Investment Bank
Developer: Sapience Analytics
Country: UK
Sector: Banking/financial services
Purpose: Improve employee productivity
Technology: Behavioural monitoring system
Issue: Surveillance; Privacy
Transparency: Governance