For $399 a month, Live Eye Surveillance of Washington State provides perpetual workplace surveillance in the form of an actual, live human being who is paid to watch your business CCTV feed — at all hours of the day. The monitors, who Live Eye Surveillance specifically calls “Process Analysts,” are based in India, acting “as a virtual supervisor for the sites,” per a job posting on the Live Eye Surveillance site. Other responsibilities include “assisting employees remotely,” creating reports for “suspicious activities,” and acting “assuring the safety of the employees located overseas and requesting them to complete assigned tasks.”
Yes, this sounds creepy — and the CCTV product has its fair share of criticism. Human rights experts say that this type of technology is exploitative, while technology researchers assert that this the constant surveillance could potentially harm employees’ mental well-being.
“Essentially what’s happening with workplace surveillance is employers trying to keep track of their employees to make sure they match their idea of productivity,” Eva Blum-Dumontet, a senior researcher at Privacy International, a London based charity working at the intersection of technology and human rights, told Motherboard. “This is very toxic for the mental health of employees.”
One potentially concerning incident was captured on video, during which a convenience store clerk is admonished by his remote monitor’s voice for taking a sip from a beverage before officially scanning and purchasing it. For managers, this seems like a bonus. For actual employees — and their mental health — not so much.
Per CCTV footage captured in a 7 Eleven, two gunmen attempt to rob the store, angrily screaming and pushing the cashier towards the register, where they hold him at gunpoint. But once the voice of God (or rather, the “Process Analyst”) comes booming through the speakers to announce they’ve alerted authorities, the robbers panic and flee the premises, leaving the clerk unharmed.
Robbers flee upon hearing the monitor’s voice on the speakers.Photo credit: jasontpkoebler/YouTube.
Something worth noting, however, is that this video in particular is the promotional clip Live Eye Surveillance chooses to share with potential customers.
It remains to be seen how technology of the sort works out in the long run. Hopefully we’ll have more success stories, like the clip from 7 Eleven, and less alarming admonishment for hydrating during work hours.
I hope my FBI agent enjoyed watching me write this story.