A Washington-based surveillance company offers real-time 24/7 monitoring for convenience stores, gas stations, restaurants and hotel chains across the U.S. to help owners prevent theft and shoplifting.
Eye in the sky: Live Eye Surveillance employs workers from Karnal, India to monitor employees and deter any suspicious behaviors within the business for $399 per month, according to Vice News.
- Their job is to “act as a virtual supervisor for the sites, in terms of assuring the safety of the employees located overseas and requesting them to complete assigned tasks,” a job listing reads.
- Live Eye’s customers include several corporations like 7-Eleven, Food-Mart, Dairy Queen, Holiday Inn and Shell.
- Although 7-Eleven did not comment whether it condones the use of Live Eye’s services, the company said, “Independent franchise owners can install their own system on top of what is provided.”
- However, a spokesperson from 7-Eleven told Business Insider only one franchise owner uses the company’s surveillance services in its store.
How it works: An overseas employee will constantly monitor the business and intervene if any suspicious behaviors happen inside the store through the speakers on the ceiling.
- A CCTV video, which has since been restricted, shows one example of how a camera operator confronted an employee for taking a coffee bottle from a cooler and asks if he scanned and paid for the drink, according to Business Insider.
- In another restricted video, an operator questions a clerk who is talking to a man out of the camera’s periphery and later orders him to stand on the other side of the counter.
- The company also helps deter convenience store robberies, as shown in another example video. The armed robbers immediately runs after hearing the voice from the speakers.
Safety and human rights issues: An unnamed former 7-Eleven field consultant criticized the surveillance company’s way of handling the robbery, suggesting, “That’s how someone is going to get killed.”
- “You don’t startle someone with an assault rifle,” they added. “That violates 7-Eleven policy. There’s a reason why the silent alarm is silent.”
- Eva Blum-Dumontet, a senior researcher at Privacy International, raised some human rights concerns with how companies put surveillance on their employees through Live Eye.
- “Essentially what’s happening with workplace surveillance is employers trying to keep track of their employees to make sure they match their idea of productivity,” Blum-Dumontet said. “This is very toxic for the mental health of employees.”
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