Concerns are resurfacing regarding how much data Microsoft Teams collects during video calls. Potentially, the volume of information collected presents a privacy infringement for individual users and could be used for employer snooping given the amount of remote work that is currently taking place.
As the coronavirus pandemic has forced more employees to work remotely, they have often used digital collaboration tools like Teams to remain productive. This has drawn increased scrutiny regarding the types of data that these tools collect.
The latest research indicates that the Teams Activity Report can be used by businesses to read a breakdown of usage for each individual user. This includes each person's chats, voicemails, files, privacy settings, and even a person’s time stamps.
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Privacy versus productivity
Microsoft would no doubt argue that the data it collects is extremely useful for adding new features to the Teams platform, which it has done frequently of late, and for enabling businesses to boost their productivity. Given that many employees are not currently in a position to choose if they use Teams or not, however, it does seem as though they are essentially being forced to hand over their data.
What’s more, given that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently spoke of his desire to expand Teams significantly, turning it into a “digital platform as significant as the internet browser,” it’s likely that Teams may soon be able to capture even more data from its users.
Back in October last year, Microsoft announced a new 365 Productivity Score feature to help business speed up their digital transformation projects but which was heavily criticized for operating as an employee surveillance tool. Microsoft responded by anonymizing the data it collected so it could not be used to spy on employees but the data is still being collected nonetheless. It remains to be seen whether Microsoft will make a similar backtrack regarding its Teams data collection policies.
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Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with ITProPortal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services. After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.