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Union warns against biometric monitoring of employees amid increase in remote work

Regulation advised for automation, AI, and biometrics in the workplace
Union warns against biometric monitoring of employees amid increase in remote work

A new report from research and sourcing advisory firm Information Services Group (ISG) has revealed an increase in the use of new technologies including facial recognition and voice biometrics as contact center staff transition to work-from-home.

The surge in cloud, biometrics, and artificial intelligence applications is fueled by the pandemic effects, which forced providers to quickly adapt to work-at-home arrangements.

“In a disruptive time like this, enterprises need to deliver the best customer experience, with more personalization, to preserve brand loyalty,” said Jan Erik Aase, director and global leader, ISG Provider Lens Research.

“Enterprises that use technology to deliver a better customer experience can set themselves apart.”

According to the new data, the shift in buying and communication patterns would extend to legacy-heavy companies, and would now be irreversible.

Security concerns deriving from the adoption of these new technologies would have also caused the rise of solutions relying on facial recognition, auto screen lock, voice biometrics, and VPNs, among other technologies.

The 2020 ISG Provider Lens Contact Center, Customer Experience Services global report evaluated the capabilities of 22 contact center providers, and you can find it here.

Prospect Union calls for regulation of surveillance tech

United Kingdom trade union Prospect asked the government to deploy measures to prevent employers from using surveillance technologies to monitor employees working from home, NS Tech reports.

As the ISG report showed, there was a vast increase in remote working during the pandemic.

This growth has coincided with the interest of companies to make sure staff are working as efficiently as possible, and many of them have deployed tools such as keystroke monitoring, facial recognition, or wearables.

New polling commissioned by Prospect now showed that the vast majority (66 percent) of the British workforce feel uncomfortable with these monitoring practices.

“Having your every keystroke or app usage monitored by your boss while you are working in your own home may sound like a dystopia,” said Prospect General Secretary Mike Clancy. “But there are precious few controls in place to prevent it from becoming a daily reality for millions of workers across Britain.”

Prospect represents engineers, managers, scientists, and other specialists in both the public and private sectors.

The union now claims it’s time for the UK Government to regulate these practices, particularly as remote working is likely to stay for the long run.

“As the new reality takes hold we will see more and more debates about the use of technology to monitor workers,” Clancy told NS Tech. “The evidence suggests the workforce are simply not ready for it.”

Concerns about excessive monitoring during the pandemic are not exclusive to the UK workforce.

In July, for example, University of Queensland students reported various incidents involving biometrics-based remote proctoring software.

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