Paymo and Our Stance on Cyber-Surveillance

1989. That was a significant year for freedom. It was a year when we Romanians and other Eastern Europeans found our collective voices and overthrew our Communist governments. The people spoke up that they would no longer tolerate a police state, no longer allow the tyranny of surveillance to their lives, no longer live with the fear of doing something wrong in the eyes of those in power. Although i was only 8 years old at that time, 1989 is a year of deep significance to me and all of us at Paymo.

You might be asking yourself, what does this have to do with time tracking? Why do I share this with you? Because I hope it sheds some light on why all of us here are strongly against using any form of technology to track employees activities without their awareness and consent.

Since we founded our company in 2008 and built our first time tracking app, we’ve constantly had a lot of people ask us to build in functionality to capture the content of their employees’ screens. The root of the request is to ensure employees are being productive and not checking Facebook every hour. While that might sound reasonable at first, bear in mind our history of living under a repressive regime. My hope is it explains why we don’t ever plan on building any surveillance or monitoring tools into Paymo. It’s simply against our philosophy.

You may be wondering about PaymoPlus. Doesn’t that monitor an employee’s computer activity? The answer is, “No.” PaymoPlus does track the activity of a computer user, but the user has full control of what data actually is kept on the server. We do not allow the data to be used secretly and without the user’s permission.

There are times when I see us moving fast into a techno-Orwellian society where Big Brother really does exist. However, I believe it doesn’t have to be that way. Paymo is built around the concept of trust between employees and employer. We urge employees to work for companies that respect privacy and fight against employers who try to breach it.

Time and task tracking are wonderful tools that help us be more efficient and effective in our work. But, we know the risk involved in surveillance done by a country or a corporation and how it can be used against individuals. Let’s instead choose to build businesses based on trust. Those are the businesses that are best positioned for profits and prosperity and a bright future for all of us.

2 Responses to “Paymo and Our Stance on Cyber-Surveillance”
  • I agree. I will also decline work from companies that do not have policies in place to protect their employees from discrimination and harassment based on gender identity or expression. I look at their civil rights record too. Every individual has a responsibility for social justice. If we demand progressive change, then we can avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.

  • Hi Jan,

    I am sorry I cannot agree. I am also from the Central EU country. However, screenshots tracking and spying on your employees without their awareness is not the same. Most trackers have an option to delete your last screenshot. Of course, the time stamp will not be counted. You know, that the system is recording screenshots, you can see them, you can delete them.

    When I worked at Honeywell, there was an explicit statement in my contract that I have no privacy right while at work. There are also tools that monitors everything on your PC and are very hardly to be detected. I don’t agree with this.

    However, as an employer, I need to be sure that my outsourced freelancers are doing their job. Taking a screenshot is the same as a boss walking into the office and see your physical screen.
    I do want this feature, and I am sorry I will be forced to leave your product.

    Best,
    Peter.

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