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ICO seeks insight into the way businesses deploy personal data

data woman
(Image credit: Future)

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) wants to learn more about the tools and services employers use when monitoring their employees in the remote-enabled world. Apparently, it wants to learn more about these topics so that it can update the current Employment Practices guidance.

By updating the guidance and bringing it up to speed with the latest developments brought upon everyone by the Covid-19 pandemic, it aims to protect employee privacy in the workplace, while building trust and enabling employers to optimize their operations.

In a blog post, published on the ICO website, the organization’s acting Director of Regulatory Assurance, Anulka Clarke, announced the launch of the consultation:

“Artificial intelligence [AI] and machine learning are impacting the ways decisions are made about workers; monitoring technologies are more varied and widespread in use; and the pandemic has suddenly accelerated the trend for remote working and for obtaining health data,” she said.

“We’ve launched a call for views today to help us to create practical employment guidance where personal data is used, that supports both employers and staff. It is crucial we reflect as many responses as we can from as many sectors as possible.”

Speaking to Computer Weekly, Andrew Pakes, Research Director at specialist professional science and research union Prospect said technologies enabling the mass collection of employee data have the capacity to “fundamentally change the work relationship”.

“There are increasing concerns that our data is being used to micro-manage, monitor and control workers, often without any transparency over how decisions are made,” he said.

For Pakes, the consultation is the first step in ensuring employee data rights on surveillance.