Microsoft faces legal challenge to 'spy' software

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Microsoft's pending patent for employee monitoring via computer could fall foul of the law, according to top lawyers..

Details emerged yesterday of a patent application for a system to monitor all aspects of an employee's activity, from computer use to heart beat and respiration.

But legal experts from law firm Eversheds have said that Microsoft will face major legal problems if it tries to implement the system around the world.

"Most countries say that companies cannot do this even with employee consent, " said Jonathan Armstrong, a partner at Eversheds.

"This is because it is a very 'master and slave' relationship. Employees have valid concerns."

Armstrong said that the situation is further complicated by the international nature of business.

If an employer is monitoring staff in Europe from a US head office, for example, there is debate as to how the law would be applied.

Similarly, unions and works councils are likely to kick up a stink over the treatment of staff under the proposed scheme.
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