JPMorgan Employees Describe ‘Big Brother’ Tactics As Company Tracks Their Movements, Calls, Calendars
The logo of JP Morgan bank is pictured at the new French headquarters of the bank on June 29, 2021 in Paris

JPMorgan Chase uses ID swipe data to track employee’s movements, calls, calendars, and more.

The company claimed that the information gathered would only be used to improve “business efficiency, resiliency and workplace health and safety,” and “may not be used for any other purposes,” including “employment action,” the bank’s intranet says regarding the information.

But employees told Business Insider they believe America’s largest bank is using the data to take employment action.

“Amongst a lot of people, you will hear the term ‘Big Brother,’ and you will hear the term ‘1984,’” on current employee based in the U.S., who has direct knowledge of the company’s data collection system, told the outlet.

“It’s fostered paranoia. It’s fostered distrust. And, to be honest with you, it’s fostered a lot of disrespect,” this employee added. “There’s a lot of sentiment around Chase that we’re just a number. That’s all we are.”

Business Insider reported that JPMorgan Chase collects employee data using a platform called the Workplace Activity Data Utility (WADU), which was built just before the coronavirus pandemic hit. The bank tracks thousands of workers’ activities throughout the day, beginning as soon as they “log into their virtual workspaces until they log out,” the outlet reported.

To combat the tracking, employees told Business Insider that they are finding ways to evade the company’s data collection during breaks and at other times.

The employee who mentioned “1984” told the outlet they had downloaded a “mouse jiggler” to make sure his virtual workspace wouldn’t automatically time out due to inactivity. If a workspace did time out, the person said it could reduce the logged number of overall hours.

Another employee told Business Insider that she and colleagues used the iMessage app to discuss work-related topics, which violates company rules regarding communications.

“They are becoming more like a government and less like an employer,” the employee told the outlet.

Employee data is not the only data JPMorgan has started collecting. The Financial Times reported last week that the bank is collecting data on race and ethnicity from certain borrowers as part of the company’s pledge to spend $30 billion to help the black community – a pledge made after the murder of George Floyd by police. Part of that pledge involves $14 billion in mortgage and small business loans for blacks and Latinos. The data collection, according to the Times, is “a departure from the norm in US banking.”

Typically, asking for this data is illegal, but JPMorgan is getting around that by using an exemption allowing banks to ask for such data in order to better serve disadvantaged borrowers.

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