The Aussie Corporate

Are we being watched?

It’s a day just like any other, but today a message pops up on your screen, asking you to restart your computer as IT has pushed out some new snazzy software to your workstation. You think nothing of it, the firm is always investing in the newest tech. The installation window reads… “Intapp” – didn’t your IT mate warn you about something like this? Intapp. Something touted by your firm as AI software that will help you record time (harmless, right?) but does so by tracking your screen activity. By doing this, firms are able to use it to provide a daily report of activity to your boss at the end of the day. Apparently, a lot of firms use this kind of software (its not just Intapp), so we don’t blame you if your alarm bells are ringing at this point. 

The insiders amongst you have told us that depending on the firm, the reporting level varies. The baseline however seems to be that firms “don’t send everything” to your boss but rather, checks your activity for any “lexicon” hits. In other words, the computer will look for “pre-set phrases that will trigger a hit”. At one particular US investment bank, we know that your boss will be sent entire activity records of his/her team members on a rotating weekly basis. This is on top of the lexicon hits mentioned already. And it’s anyone’s guess what these words might be, but we suspect the usual, like anything violent, pornographic or just simply work inappropriate. At Allens, we know you will definitely get pinged if you use the word “anal”, as someone was flagged for describing someone as an “anal colleague”. Other phrases that you’ve told us will get flagged include “lipstick on a pig”, “finally got through the filter” and “boys club”. Each firm’s tolerance to these words is different, so do take this with a grain of salt.

Another Auscorp at a compliance department of a super fund also told us that technically, all this information gets saved. As people sometimes use work computers at home too, this can definitely get quite a bit invasive. At this particular company, management took the view that everyone was an adult, so they would only look into suspicious activity where warranted, such as massive Netflix streaming in work hours. For those Netflix nuts out there, beware and be a bludger on your personal laptops!

As with all tech, nothing is perfect. We are sure that plenty of false positives get flagged by the software, and wouldnt be surprised if your boss even read these reports because of this. One example you’ve told us is about a time when a colleague was talking about his puppy “shitting” in the house. This got flagged simply because swear words were used constantly in the conversation. What a bloody waste of resources to investigate the convo if you ask us!

A last horror story that we’d like to leave you with is one about passwords. One particular start-up required its employees to use a password wallet. Upon resigning, OP made a post on Linkedin about their experience at the firm (and suffice to say, it was a one-star kind of review). A few days after making this post, OP checked his page, and found that it had mysteriously vanished. On a hunch, they went to check their active logged in sessions and lo and behold, it showed that someone had logged in on their old work laptop, which had been returned to the company. 

Tech is a wonderful thing but the more it becomes integrated into our lives, the more invasive it can be as well. There’s not really much we can do about these kinds of software programs but what we can do is to make sure that your work devices are dedicated to work and work only.

What do you think about this? Got any other horror stories or instances where you have been pinged? Leave us a comment below.

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