Google employees are reportedly accusing leaders at the company of creating a surveillance tool critics think will be used on worker attempts to organize or talk about labor rights.
Bloomberg News obtained a memo written by an employee that discussed workers' concerns. Workers reportedly said they found a team at the company making a tool for workers' Google Chrome browser that would search internal systems.
The tool would flag staffers who create calendar events with more than 10 rooms or 100 people, the memo said, according to Bloomberg.
It reportedly claimed that the most likely reason is that "this is an attempt of leadership to immediately learn about any workers organization attempts.”
Google denied the allegation in a tweet.
"These claims about the operation and purpose of this extension are categorically false. This is a pop-up reminder that asks people to be mindful before auto-adding a meeting to the calendars of large numbers of employees," the company said.
These claims about the operation and purpose of this extension are categorically false. This is a pop-up reminder that asks people to be mindful before auto-adding a meeting to the calendars of large numbers of employees.— Google Communications (@Google_Comms) October 23, 2019
According to the company, the tool, which has been in development for months, does not gather personally identifying information. It also does not stop calendar function, but comes in response to an increasing amount of email and calendar spam, the company said.
Bloomberg reported, citing two Google employees and review of the tool, that engineers who were tasked with creating the extension wrote that workers would not be able to get rid of it and that it would be “used for policy enforcement.”
The review's author reportedly called the tool “creepy” and apparently joked that it should be called “not-a-trojan-horse_dot_exe.”
Google last month settled with the National Labor Relations Board over allegations that it prevented workers from speaking out in the workplace.