Microsoft has attracted the attention of privacy activists through the productivity scoring feature of Microsoft 365. The tool uses telemetry technology to enable employers to track workers’ activities and performance.
The analysis tool has been criticized for a serious invasion of privacy because it enables employers to closely monitor individuals.A data privacy researcher described it as a “turn[ing] Microsoft 365 becomes a fully functional workplace monitoring tool”.
The productivity score assigns 800 points to employees and reports detailed information such as the time spent using different tools such as Word, Microsoft Teams or email. Although the tool was released as early as 2019, it only started public release this month.
Austrian privacy researcher Wolfie Christl expressed concern about the tool:
The level of detailed information about individuals that the tool allows employers to collect is one of the issues. This data is collected and reported over a 28-day period. However, Microsoft believes that there is nothing to worry about. The company issued a statement saying:
Productivity score is an optional experience that provides IT administrators with insights about technology and infrastructure usage. Insight aims to solve common problems such as long startup times, inefficient document collaboration, or poor network connectivity, thereby helping organizations make the most of their technology investments. Insights are summarized and displayed within 28 days and provided at the user level, so IT administrators can provide technical support and guidance.
in Online documentationJared Spataro, vice president of Microsoft 365, even said: “Let me be clear: Productivity score is not a job monitoring tool.” But no matter what Microsoft says, this is exactly how many people see the tool.
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