The Daily Telegraph has decided to remove the tracking monitors installed Monday at journalists’ desks after a BuzzFeed News article on the policy sparked backlash.
The British newspaper informed staff in an email Monday that small plastic monitoring boxes had been attached to their desks. The OccupEye monitors, made by Blackburn-based firm Cad-Capture, were slated be in place for four weeks as part of the Telegraph’s commitment to green energy measures, reducing “the amount of power we consume for heating, lighting and cooling the building at times of low usage,” the email said, according to BuzzFeed.
“Quite simply, if a space is used, your OccupEye sensors will record it and you are guaranteed to know about it,” the product’s website states.
Seamus Dooley, assistant general secretary of the National Union of Journalists, condemned the move.
“Employers must adhere to strict rules governing the collection of data in the workplace,” he told The Guardian. “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.”
In a note to staff just four hours after BuzzFeed’s initial report, the Telegraph announced that the sensors would be removed.
“In the light of feedback we have received from staff today, it has been decided to withdraw the under-desk sensors immediately,” the note said. “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.”