UK’s privacy watchdog investigates Barclays for allegedly spying on staff

Barclays is being investigated by the UK’s privacy watchdog over allegations that the bank spied on employees using computer monitoring software.

The Information Commissioner Office confirmed it had launched a probe into the bank, but did not indicate when it would conclude. Barclays declined to comment. The ICO had previously said in February it was “looking into” the case.

The probe is understood to relate to a system that the bank is piloting, called Sapience, which tracks how staff spends their time at work. According to its website, Sapience offers clients a “unified, real-time view of effort” from data that is gathered automatically.

After the system led to criticism in the media that Barclays was spying on its staff, the UK bank said it would change the way it operates.

“We have an ongoing investigation relating to Barclays’ alleged use of employee monitoring tools,” an ICO spokeswoman said.

“People expect that they can keep their personal lives private and that they are also entitled to a degree of privacy in the workplace,” she added.

“If organisations wish to monitor their employees, they should be clear about its purpose and that it brings real benefits. Organisations also need to make employees aware of the nature, extent and reasons for any monitoring.”

The probe was first reported in The Sunday Telegraph.

To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email Emily Horton

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