Microsoft anonymises Productivity Score feature after privacy backlash

Privacy experts had slammed the feature as a "snooper’s charter" for bosses to spy on workers

Computer user touching on the Microsoft Word icon to open the programme

Microsoft will change the way its new Productivity Score feature works so that companies can no longer see data about individual employees.

The move comes after privacy experts voiced concerns that the feature would be a "snooper’s charter" for bosses to spy on workers.

The “Productivity Score” feature was launched in October this year as part of Microsoft 365 and enabled companies to see how employees use Microsoft applications to get work done. However, the same feature allows employers to see individual data by default.

This led to some privacy experts lambasting the feature as a “full-fledged workplace surveillance tool”. Wolfie Christl of the independent Cracked Labs digital research institute in Vienna, Austria, said in a series of tweets that “employers/managers can analyze employee activities at the individual level (!), for example, the number of days an employee has been sending emails, using the chat, using ‘mentions’ in emails etc.”.

Jared Spataro, Microsoft 365 corporate vice president, in a blog post, said that “going forward, the communications, meetings, content collaboration, teamwork, and mobility measures in Productivity Score will only aggregate data at the organization level—providing a clear measure of organization-level adoption of key features.

"No one in the organization will be able to use Productivity Score to access data about how an individual user is using apps and services in Microsoft 365”.

He said that the company now realised that there was some confusion about the capabilities of the product.

“Productivity Score produces a score for the organisation and was never designed to score individual users. We’ll make that clearer in the user interface and improve our privacy disclosures in the product to ensure that IT admins know exactly what we do and don’t track,” he said.

Sparato added that the feedback received about the feature has meant that it would move “quickly to respond by removing user names entirely from the product. This change will ensure that Productivity Score can’t be used to monitor individual employees.”

Featured Resources

BCDR buyer's guide for MSPs

How to choose a business continuity and disaster recovery solution

Download now

The definitive guide to IT security

Protecting your MSP and your customers

Download now

Cost of a data breach report 2020

Find out what factors help mitigate breach costs

Download now

The complete guide to changing your phone system provider

Optimise your phone system for better business results

Download now

Recommended

Microsoft launches open source tool Counterfeit to prevent AI hacking
artificial intelligence (AI)

Microsoft launches open source tool Counterfeit to prevent AI hacking

4 May 2021
Sony inks integration deal with chat app Discord
mergers and acquisitions

Sony inks integration deal with chat app Discord

4 May 2021
Microsoft patents tech to combat employee stress
Careers & training

Microsoft patents tech to combat employee stress

28 Apr 2021
Hackers could abuse legitimate Windows AD FS to steal data
Microsoft Windows

Hackers could abuse legitimate Windows AD FS to steal data

28 Apr 2021

Most Popular

16 ways to speed up your laptop
Laptops

16 ways to speed up your laptop

29 Apr 2021
How to move Windows 10 from your old hard drive to SSD
operating systems

How to move Windows 10 from your old hard drive to SSD

30 Apr 2021
Dell patches vulnerability affecting hundreds of computer models worldwide
cyber security

Dell patches vulnerability affecting hundreds of computer models worldwide

5 May 2021