At JPMorgan Chase, employees say watchful eyes are everywhere.
Insider has learned that JPMorgan Chase built a powerful data collection platform called “Workplace Activity Data Utility” (or “WADU” for short) shortly before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. This inspired widespread suspicion and mistrust over the next two years, the workers said in interviews.
“Among a lot of people you’ll hear the term ‘Big Brother’ and you’ll hear the term ‘1984,’” said a current US-based employee with first-hand knowledge of the system’s features.
“It fostered paranoia. It fostered distrust. And, to be honest with you, it fostered a lot of disrespect,” the person said. “There’s a lot of feeling around Chase that we’re just a number. That’s all we are.”
A company official pointed Insider to language on the bank’s intranet that states that information collected by WADU is intended to enhance “efficiency, resilience and occupational health and safety” and “does not may be used for other purposes”, such as “action employment.”
But employees said they were largely unaware of these disclosures and that in practice the bank appears to have linked the data collected in the system to the job action.
JPMorgan tracks a variety of employee data
The bank tracks a variety of workplace-related data on hundreds of thousands of worker communications and activities throughout the day.
Tracking the activities of individual employees begins as soon as they log into their virtual workspaces until they log out. Some employees have described engaging in unusual behaviors to evade system detection during breaks or interludes throughout the day.
For example, the US-based employee who spoke about the dystopian book “1984” described downloading a mouse jiggler to prevent the bank’s virtual workspace from automatically shutting down due to ‘inactivity. Such downtime could reduce the total number of hours logged by the employee, the person said.
Another current employee of the company’s commercial banking division said that she and her colleagues have resorted to discussing work-related topics on forums like the iMessage app, although it goes to the against the bank’s rules governing compliant communications.
“They are more like a government and less like an employer,” the person said.
For all the details on how JPMorgan Chase’s WADU system works and what types of employee data it tracks, read Insider’s full story here.
Are you an employee of JPMorgan Chase? Contact this reporter. Reed Alexander can be reached by email at [email protected], or by SMS/encrypted Signal app at (561) 247-5758.