The Daily Telegraph has come under fire after it emerged the publication had installed devices capable of detecting whether staff were at their desks.
Heat and motion detecting trackers, first noticed by Buzzfeed, have been implanted below the desks of Telegraph staff and are capable of detecting how frequently desks are occupied. Said staff noticed the boxes at their workstations on Monday morning.
The OccupEye ‘Automated Workspace Utilisation Analysis’ devices, reportedly help “space planners come up with more innovative, efficient and robust methods of tracking workplace utilisation” in real time.
In other words, the devices are capable of tracking whether desks are manned. The data is then compiled into an analytics interface.
Buzzfeed claims that after it asked the newspaper for comment on its surveillance devices an email was distributed to staff members. It claimed that the sensors were implemented to “make our floors in the building as energy efficient as possible”. The publication quoted a source as saying that HR is "frantically rowing back on [the trackers]".
It claims it was looking to enforce its green energy goals by measuring and lowering “the amount of power we consume for heating, lighting and cooling the building at times of low usage”.
Seamus Dooley, NUJ assistant general secretary, said: "This type of surveillance has no place in the workplace. Employers must adhere to strict rules governing the collection of data in the workplace.
"Workers have very strong privacy rights and these must be protected. The right to be consulted on new procedures governing such data is enshrined in law. The NUJ will resist Big Brother style surveillance in the newsroom.”
The Daily Telegraph has now announced it will remove the devices in a statement to The Drum.
Social media users were somewhat shaken by the revelation regardless of the reasons given for their installation.
Note to anyone planning to use staff workplace sensors for environmental initiative: TELL EMPLOYEES ABOUT IT FIRST https://t.co/YFlWQaIsp9
— James Murray (@James_BG) January 11, 2016
Eek! Motion sensors under the desks at the Telegraph. Has someone been reading Michael Frayn's Towards The End of the Morning, perhaps? — Katherine O'Donnell (@kathy__odonnell) January 11, 2016
"Never before has taking a sh!t on company time felt so rebellious” Telegraph puts sensors under journalists’ desks https://t.co/moWJx5O9Rk — Paul Danahar (@pdanahar) January 11, 2016
Q raised by BuzzFeed story on Tel motion sensors: since when were journalists supposed to be at their desks all day? https://t.co/NHSluouvFX — Matthew Garrahan (@MattGarrahan) January 11, 2016
comment on The Telegraph using heat sensors to track whether staff are at their desks.. https://t.co/GshDUn1j4Gpic.twitter.com/DL8ued2Py3 — no (@itsjackc) January 11, 2016
Planning a daring journalism raid to free a trapped Telegraph social media editor from the web of desk sensors — James Cook (@JamesLiamCook) January 11, 2016
— Christian Payne (@Documentally) January 11, 2016