Microsoft Developing Workplace Surveillance System to ‘Score’ Meeting Productivity

December 1, 2020

A recent patent application reveals Microsoft is developing a “meeting insight computing system” that would monitor body language, facial expressions, and other features of participants in order to assign a “quality score” to workplace meetings. According to the filing, the system could be applied both to in-person and remote meetings. Microsoft also introduced a "Productivity Score" last month which would have allowed organizations to monitor employees' use of Microsoft products. The company quickly backtracked in response to public outcry and eliminated the individualized tracking feature. Worker surveillance has rapidly increased with the transition to remote work due to COVID-19, and many organizations with on-site workers are instituting surveillance systems with the stated goal of protecting public health. EPIC advocates against social scoring and has filed a complaint with the FTC about HireVue, which similarly evaluates facial expressions and vocal patterns in the context of hiring.

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