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Keystroke tracking, screenshots, and facial recognition:

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Keystroke tracking, screenshots, and facial recognition:

The Boss May Be Watching Long After the Pandemic Ends

The Washington Post,

5 min read
4 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Forget Big Brother — now Big Boss is watching employees’ every move at home.

Editorial Rating



  • Eye Opening
  • Overview
  • Concrete Examples


When COVID sent workers home, many employers felt a need to track their remote workers’ productivity and commitment. The use of electronic monitoring platforms like Hubstaff and Teramind grew popular, and they’re likely here to stay. Washington Post reporters Danielle Abril and Drew Harwell report how this surveillance makes workers feel mistrusted, and they explore how firms either respect or breach their staff’s expectation of privacy. The authors warn employees to learn their employers’ policies, because – depending on your jurisdiction – legal protections may be scanty.


The coronavirus pandemic revealed employers’ anxiety about employees’ work ethic and productivity.

With the advent of widespread remote work, companies quickly ramped up their electronic monitoring of employees’ time on the clock. Work-from-home made supervisors worry that they could lose control of their staff members’ work habits. Large businesses’ deployment of monitoring platforms has grown 30% to 60% since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic — and the research firm Gartner expects it will rise to 70% in the next few years.

Surveillance was already a feature of many workplaces and is now far more widespread. Companies often require employees to install surveillance software on their own computers at home — or companies may sometimes do so without telling the user.

Surveillance software can do everything from logging keystrokes and periodically taking screen grabs to carrying out real-time monitoring and capture of audio and video. It may also require users to submit to cumbersome and often glitchy facial recognition if the software deems they have strayed off...

About the Authors

Danielle Abril reports on how technology affects workers and the workplace for The Washington Post, where Drew Harwell covers artificial intelligence (AI) and how algorithms affect people’s lives.

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