Increased use of software to spy on remote workers – report in EU Parliament

Companies are increasingly utilizing software to spy on people working remotely, according to Maciej Broniarz, a computer forensics analyst from Poland, who spoke before MEPs, EUObserver reported.

“The market for highly intrusive spyware is booming,” said Broniarz.

Remote surveillance tools violate the privacy of employees – analyst

The Polish analyst believes that remote surveillance tools, often known as Bossware, can violate the privacy of unwary employees. He stated that the issue of such software “may result in equivalent breaches in privacy that are quite similar to those experienced by Pegasus.”

Pegasus was developed by the Israeli NOS group and offered to governments around the world, especially those in Europe, to combat terrorism and other major crimes.

However, it was also utilized against opposition politicians in Poland, journalists in Hungary, and some European Parliament members.

Meanwhile, Bossware enables businesses to track employees digitally by collecting images or logging keystrokes without informing them.

Employee-monitoring software surged by 58% – poll

According to one survey, global demand for employee-monitoring software surged by 58% from March 2020 to September 2022 compared to 2019.

According to a more recent poll conducted in the United States in September, over 60% of organizations with remote employees use monitoring software to measure employee activity and productivity.

Another report, published by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, emphasizes the importance of understanding how remote surveillance affects workers’ health, security, livelihood, and rights to collective bargaining. 

It also noted that remote-built-in monitoring’s artificial intelligence biases provide further challenges in determining productivity.

However, concerns about privacy and data protection rights remain, according to Broniarz. “It is primarily due to a lack of widespread monitoring and discussion on that problem,” he explained, stressing that specific organizations’ internal practices tend to ignore EU data protection rules.

Legal precedent in the Netherlands

Last year, a Dutch court ruled that Chetu, a Florida-based company, infringed the human rights of a Dutch telemarketing company.

The Dutch remote employee has turned off Chetu’s camera worker surveillance. He was then dismissed as a result of it. The Dutch court, however, citing the European Convention of Human Rights, ruled “video monitoring of an employee in the office, whether it is covert or not, must be seen as a significant intrusion into the employee’s private life.

Illegal spyware use threat is not tackled by the EU – MEP

The illegal use of spyware in Europe is a big threat, according to MEP Sophie in’t Veld, but it is ignored by the EU authorities.

According to Dutch liberal MEP Sophie in’t Veld, the lead report writer for a European Parliament investigation into the abuse, suspected government-led spyware on citizens, journalists, and politicians are undermining democracy in Europe.

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