Major Companies View Employees’ Private Messages With AI: Report

Amid the growing prevalence of artificial intelligence (AI), a recent report has uncovered how several major companies are using the developing technology to intrude on the privacy of their employees by monitoring private messages.

An article written by CNBC reporter Hayden Field, published on February 9, details how big corporations like Walmart and Starbucks are misusing AI to invade employee privacy.

One AI business in particular has become the go-to source for major corporations who are seeking to undermine employee privacy. According to the report, big businesses like Walmart, Starbucks, and T-Mobile are using a startup company named “Aware” to monitor messages through Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Slack.

Information shared by Aware’s CEO and co-founder confirms that the company helps businesses monitor employee communications to take stock of worker adaptation and satisfaction with business policies.

Jeff Schumann told CNBC that his 7-year-old Ohio-based company helps businesses “understand the risk within their communications” more frequently than the typical survey put out by many companies once or twice a year.

With the software developed by Aware, businesses are equipped with technology to observe how employees in a given age or geographic group respond to business strategies. Schumann explained that the AI models his company produces are designed to read words and detect images.

Additionally, the software is able to categorize content within messaging platforms, including flagging posts as inappropriate behaviors like harassment, discrimination, and non-compliance.

According to subsequent reports about the AI in business trend, Aware has shared that up to 90% of its clients use its technology to monitor employee communications that present a legal risk. The company’s other main use for businesses is to track worker sentiments in real-time.

Aware specified that clients with a focus on risk and compliance monitoring include Walmart, Chevron, T-Mobile, and Starbucks. However, growing awareness of the use of AI in business communications has been met with mixed reviews from American workers, some of whom note the crossing of ethical boundaries with such methods while others see it as a business tactic.

In the past five years, Aware’s annual revenue has increased by an average of 150% each year, according to Schumann. Generally, the clients who use Aware employ roughly 30,000 workers.