Colombia-based call centre workers who provide outsourced customer service to some of the nation's largest companies are being pressured to sign a contract that lets their employer install cameras in their homes to monitor work performance.
According to an NBC News investigation, six workers based in Colombia for Teleperformance, one of the world's largest call centre companies, which counts Apple, Amazon and Uber among its clients, said that they are concerned about the new contract, first issued in March.
The contract allows monitoring by AI-powered cameras in workers' homes, voice analytics and storage of data collected from the worker's family members, including minors.
Teleperformance employs more than 380,000 workers globally, including 39,000 workers in Colombia.
One whistleblower said that the contract allows constant monitoring of what we are doing, but also our family.
"I think it's really bad. We don't work in an office. I work in my bedroom. I don't want to have a camera in my bedroom." The worker said that she signed the contract, a copy of which NBC News has reviewed, because she feared losing her job.
She said that she was told by her supervisor that she would be moved off the Apple account if she refused to sign the document. She said the additional surveillance technology has not yet been installed.
It seems that as many workers have shifted to performing their duties at home, some companies are pushing for increasing levels of digital monitoring of their staff in an effort to recreate the oversight of the office at home.
Veena Dubal, a labour law professor at the University of California, Hastings said: "Surveillance at home has really been normalised in the context of the pandemic. Companies see a lot of benefit in putting in software to do all kinds of monitoring they would have otherwise expected their human managers to do, but the reality is that it's much more intrusive than surveillance conducted by a boss."
An Uber spokesperson confirmed to NBC News that it actually requested the monitoring of its workers, the article reports.
Interviewed by NBC News, an Uber spokesperson said that its customer service agents have access to private and sensitive user information, including credit card details and trip data, and that protecting that information is a priority for Uber.
"As a result, Uber requested Teleperformance to monitor staff working on its accounts to verify that only a hired employee is accessing the data; that outsourced staff weren't recording screen data on another device such as a phone; and that no unauthorized person was near the computer."