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The Daily Telegraph removes staff tracking devices following uproar

The Daily Telegraph has canned its desk tracking devices it was planning on using to monitor whether staff are at their desks after Buzzfeed revealed the surveillance and amid criticism from the National Union of journalists (NUJ).

Journalists at the newspaper’s London headquarters arrived on Monday morning to heat and motion detecting trackers under their desks.

An internal email to staff around lunchtime informed them that the tracking boxes would monitor staff movements over the four weeks in order to help plan measures to improve energy efficiency.

Following complaints from journalists the Telegraph areleased a statement to The Drum saying: "In the light of feedback we have received from staff today, it has been decided to withdraw the under-desk sensors immediately.

"We will be looking at alternative ways to gather the environmental sustainability data we need, and will keep staff in touch with any new proposals."

The NUJ was heavily critical of the management’s decision to install the devices which it described as “Big Brother-style surveillance”.

Before the announcement of the removal of the tracking technology NUJ assistant general secretary, Seamus Dooley, implored employers to “adhere to strict rules governing the collection of data in the workplace.”

He added “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 OccupEye ‘Automated Workspace Utilisation Analysis’ devices were made by Blackburn-based firm Cad-Capture, and are designed to help companies be more energy efficient.

The data from the monitoring is said to allow companies reduce the number of desks by providing a dashboard showing when each desk is occupied.