PwC faces criticism over employee facial recognition tool

Accountancy firm PwC has come under criticism for developing a facial recognition tool to track employees who are absent from their screens whilst they’re working from home.

The technology, has according to the firm, has been developed to help highly regulated financial institutions meet their compliance requirements during the pandemic and it was further stressed it is also a “security extension” for asset managers and investment banks.

However, concerns have been raised over issues with employee privacy and trust especially during the Covid-19 crisis.

City commentator David Buik told Financial News that the tool was “a huge intrusion on privacy”, while the CIPD’s head of research and thought leadership Ed Houghton said staff were “likely to be highly sensitive to personal privacy when working from home”.

A PwC spokesperson has said: “This technology was developed specifically to support the compliance environment required for traders and front office staff. Crucially it is designed to support those adhering to the regulations while remote working in the least intrusive, pragmatic way.”

Despite this, PwC may have a point when it comes to compliance. For companies in the financial sector, facial recognition could be helpful in keeping the trading floors secure. Since more and more people have been working from home due to Covid, trust and productive certainty has become a hot topic.

Barclays came under fire earlier this year after installing tracking software on their employees computers to monitor breaks and productivity. They eventually scrapped this system after backlash from employees after just a week.

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