Technology in the Age Of The Trump Virus

“Looks like you’re trying to become hip.”

As long as we were talking ’bout tech earlier… Microsoft Borg, er, Teams looks more Orwellian than ever:

Teaming With Information.

As far back as June, Microsoft explained in somewhat legalistic terms that it’s happily recording so much Teams activity for the benefit of employers and it’s up to them what they do with it.

Sample wording from Redmond’s fine lawyers: “Our customers are controllers for the data provided to Microsoft, as set forth in the Online Services Terms, and they determine legal bases of processing.”

From what I could see, Teams hoovers up all your chats, voicemails, shared meetings, files, transcriptions, your profile details including your email address and phone number, and a detailed analysis of what you were wearing on the call. (I may have made up that last one.)

Cut to September and Microsoft offered a little more about the Teams Activity Report (since updated). Here’s a sentence that’s unsurprising but still a touch uncomfortable: “The table gives you a breakdown of usage by user.”

Everything from how many meetings that user organized to how many urgent messages they sent is recorded. Separate numbers are given for scheduled meetings and those that were ad hoc. Even individuals’ screen-share time is there.

It’s remarkably detailed. But, I hear you cry, is it detailed enough?

In October, then, Redmond offered “a new analytics and reporting experience for Microsoft Teams.” (This was updated last week.)

I confess that just staring at this made me swivel several times in wonder. Microsoft is measuring privacy settings, device types, time stamps, reasons why someone may have been blocked, and “the number of messages a user posted in a private chat.”

It’s a long post filled documenting MS’s egregious invasions of privacy with this “tool.” It’s an interesting read, and if you are using MS Teams, you might want to know what your boss sees.

And in not-really related news (totally related):

A wristband that tells your boss if you are unhappy

At first glance the silicone wristband could be mistaken for one that tracks your heart rate when you are doing exercise.

However, the wearable technology, called a Moodbeam, isn’t here to monitor your physical health. Instead it allows your employer to track your emotional state.

The gadget, which links to a mobile phone app and web interface, has two buttons, one yellow and one blue. The idea is that you press the yellow one if you are feeling happy, and the blue one if you are sad.

Aimed at companies who wish to monitor the wellbeing of staff who are working from home, the idea is that employees are encouraged to wear the wristband (they can say no), and press the relevant button as they see fit throughout the working week.

Managers can then view an online dashboard to see how workers are feeling and coping. With bosses no longer able to check in physically with their team, Moodbeam hopes to bridge the gap.

And if you think any employee is going to press the blue button, I got a bridge to sell.

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3 Responses to Technology in the Age Of The Trump Virus

  1. Lsamsa says:

    Funny that…no red button.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. As a O365 tenant admin, I know about this stuff, because they keep emailing us about it. DO I have time to pay any attention to it? [swivels desk chair, looks at elaborate ‘Monsters Inc. Door conveyor-esque apparatus managing the 18,935 hats I wear] ‘Nope, aint nobody’s got time for that shit’

    I can guarantee that 99.99% of this is going to be used for forensic searching of the records on the orders of Legal.

    OTOH, we use teams a lot, not just because it offers easy access to a large library of funny gifs. (was actually the feature that sold it to us about 3,25 milliseconds after we tried it.

    The university’s SLA with MC sez all data is ours and ours alone; it’s soon to be certified for use with HIPAA-sensitive stuff.

    Yeah some bosses will go hog wild with this stuff, but having been around this block awhile this stuff comes out when the devs at MS get bored and worried about output and start egging each other on to add ‘features’ whether or not anyone actual asked for them.

    (as an example, they gave us this orwellian crap. But the ability to log into more than one Teams account at the same time on different tenancies in the client, a feature that has approximately 49 gazillion requests in the requests site? Nowhere to be seen…)

    As for “moodbeam” I can also guarantee that, somehow my dogs will keep getting ahold of my ‘moodbeam’ and playing chewtoy with it. Or ‘oops it fell off and I rolled my chair over it! 5 times!’ Or simply pounding a tenpenny nail through it into a chunk of 2×4 with ‘My Mood” scrawled on it with red paint, and left outside the bosses door.

    This is a company that got some not-insignificant amount of VC funding for the “moodbeam” as a business plan.

    This proves to me two things:

    1) Silicon Valley was not nearly far enough separated from reality to be satire
    2) There is WAAAAY the FUCK too much money sloshing around in the hands of psychopathic fund managers, and we should really claw it back. And leave a few clawmarks on them as a deterrent…

    Liked by 4 people

    • tengrain says:

      My last manager when I was at Itty Bitty Machines pulled up some sort of log thing from Lotus Notes (the horror, the horror!) to ask me very specifically what I was doing at a certain time on a certain day. I was not logged on, and I have no meetings on my schedule, and in fact had blocked off time. I had checked into source control all my projects. The phone records showed that I was not on a call, and in fact my phone was set to go automatically into voice mail. I also had a sign on my door saying “Do not disturb.”

      “Thinking” was my reply. I pointed to the leather pocket note pad everyone is given on their first day, which literally says “think” on it and is why the (now Lenovo) laptops were called ThinkPads.

      “It’s what you pay me to do.”

      And that was the exact moment I started thinking about leaving.



      Liked by 4 people

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