Last week, New Scientist published my investigative article on how several large US companies monitor their employees on corporate computer networks (and off them, too). The biggest payoff in my research was when I got a rep from Wavecrest, a company that sells cheapo network monitoring software, to tell me all about how Procter & Gamble uses its system to surveil what all 100 thousand of its employees are doing on the Web. I kept calling P&G for comment, but got shuffled around for two weeks — and then, literally one day before the article went to press, I got the Panic Call. One of P&G’s reps had finally figured out what I was writing about, and wanted to assure me the story wasn’t true. When I confronted her with the evidence, she got very quiet and said she needed to talk to “someone else.” Later that day, she acknowledged that P&G is a Wavecrest client and that she wouldn’t deny their story, but added P&G had “no comment.” Heh.
I got some interesting information on corporate surveillance at Bank of America, Kaiser Permanente, and Yahoo!. In addition, Google’s corporate blogmistress admitted that the company has a special e-mail list where employees send personal blog posts for “vetting.” (Sadly this detail didn’t make the final article.) She also said Google routinely reads the blogs of potential employees before hiring them. Yes, we all know this is true on a common sense level, but it’s another thing to have someone officially admit it.