back to article Labour Party urges UK data watchdog to update its Code of Employment Practices to tackle workplace snooping

The UK's Information Commissioner's Office needs to update its Code of Employment Practices to tackle workplace spying by bosses, the Prospect trade union and the Labour Party have said. The call for more regulation of workplace surveillance comes after recent reports of new gadgets designed to tell bosses whether their …

  1. Cederic Silver badge


    Expecting that workers are not digitally monitored at all feels naive - if nothing else, it would for instance prevent use of IT resources to prevent abusive images being shared in the office.

    There are sound business reasons too. Process optimisation requires an understanding of bottlenecks and areas of high effort. Automated telemetry within and even beyond software systems can provide highly valuable information that doesn't just help the business, it can also make the job easier and more fun for the worker.

    I'm very much against automated video analysis trying to determine my emotional state (and not just because my face doesn't show emotion the same way as everybody else) but any guidance or legislation in this area needs to be very nuanced and very carefully crafted.

    Of course, since politicians are involved we're doomed.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Naive

      Frowned upon and pretty much banned here. Definitely can't be done without first getting the employee's consent and if they don't consent, you can't take any retaliatory actions.

      At my employer:

      We can't monitor email, for example, without first informing the user. If a user is long-term sick, they are sometimes informed that an out-of-office message will be set and their supervisor will be copied in on email, so that nothing important slips by. (They are also not supposed to use email for private communication, so there is generally no real problems in that area.)

      Listening in on/recording telephone conversations has very strict rules in Germany, both sides have to agree, before the recording can take place, there can be no automatic recording. (Warrants for police purposes excepted, but the employer can't spy) The employer has simply deactivated all recording on the telephone and in Teams by policy.

      No monitoring software on PCs, smartphones etc. Only the app for clocking on and clocking off for remote workers.

      No monitoring of internet access (anti-virus excepted).

      In Microsoft 365 all the monitoring tools are deactivated / access removed.

      It makes for a much more relaxed and efficient atmosphere (you aren't constantly "looking over your shoulder").

  2. Howard Sway Silver badge

    Code of Employment Practices

    I'm fine with this, as long as the code also stipulates that all allowable monitoring tech must become mandatory for all MPs and ministers from the governing party, so that we the public, their employers, can monitor their performance at all times.

  3. Mike 137 Silver badge

    Fast forward to the DPA 2018

    Fast forward to the DPA 2018, which is based on the EU GDPR, and that right has been watered down

    That's not the only right that's been watered down. Prior to DPA 2018 you were entitled to request a copy of an employment reference about you from the recipient but not from the sender. Under DPA 2018 you aren't entitled to request it from either of them. So by law you can be blacklisted and you'll never find out.

    This could well be one of the stumbling blocks on the path to an EU adequacy decision.

    1. Falmari Silver badge

      Re: Fast forward to the DPA 2018

      "This could well be one of the stumbling blocks on the path to an EU adequacy decision."

      Why, DPA 2018 is the UK's GDPR enacted into UK law?

      If the law "DPA 2018" is not changed surely it must meet EU adequacy?

      Or did the UK implementation not meet EU adequacy when enacted into law in 2018?

      Genuine question.

  4. Eccella

    Privacy by design

    If only the ICO actually followed up on its own mandate and guidelines:

    In a world of Bring your Own Device (Everything including desk and Chair) this should become the norm. Effort has been directed solely for the benefit of the Enterprise with no consideration for the rights of the individual. Why should I have my employer have access to all my personal data on my personal device?

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Privacy by design

      We are lucky. No BYOD. We get a company PC/laptop and a company phone, if we need it.

      No private data allowed on company devices. No company data on private devices

      No company laptop and no company phone, no access to company data.

      It also makes "signing off" easier. You leave your company phone at work or you turn it off when you leave the office, unless you are on call.

      1. DBJDBJ

        Re: Privacy by design

        Data on devices is 20-th century.

  5. Danny 2

    Zoom watermarks

    The Intercept has an article on audio and video watermarks in Zoom that can be used to trace leaks. What You Should Know Before Leaking a Zoom Meeting.

    Which i kind of ironic given that they've just sacked Laura Poitras for criticising The Intercept for getting Reality Winner arrested via printed watermarks. Poitras brought Glenn Greewald to interview Edward Snowden, thus starting The Intercept - and Greenwald had already quit.

  6. IGotOut Silver badge

    Go Labour!

    Snooping is for Goverments, Local Goverments, partners of the government, official sounding quangos, random businesses and that bloke the MP knows from the golf club...oh an his wife...and her friend from the gym.

    Go RIPA!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meanwhile Labour are very quiet

    on spying on the Social Media Habits of Party Members.

  8. Christoph

    "The call for more regulation of workplace surveillance comes after recent reports of new gadgets designed to tell bosses whether their toiling underlings are happy or sad."

    Trivially easy. You put this kind of monitoring in place and all the employees are sad.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Why spend the money, just tell employees there is such monitoring, they will all become sad for free!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How soon we forget...

    Which party did Gordon Brown, the last Prime Minister to try forcing identity cards onto UK nationals, work for again? And which party repeatedly aligned itself with the most restrictive, authoritarian regime on the planet? Nope, not the Tories. I wonder who it was.

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