Surveillance startup harassed female workers using own tech

Published: 28 October, 2020 09:36 IST | IANS | San Francisco

The sales director then posted the photos in a Slack channel alongside sexually explicit jokes about them.

Representational Image
Representational Image

A Silicon Valley-based surveillance startup has been accused of harassing its female workers using its own facial recognition technology, according to media reports.

The incident dates back to last year when the sales director of the startup, Verkada, took photos of female colleagues by accessing security cameras installed by the company, The Verge reported on Monday.

The sales director then posted the photos in a Slack channel alongside sexually explicit jokes about them.

The incident came to light after IPVM first reported it. Vice also independently verified it.

According to the Vice report, the sales director posted in Slack, "Face match… find me a squirt."

Verkada facial recognition feature was used to patch together photos of employees' faces, said the report.

Employees told IPVM that some of their colleagues who occupied leadership positions on the sales team contributed to a culture of sexism in the organisation.

Verkada CEO Filip Kaliszan did not reportedly fire the staff who were accused of harassing the employees after the incident was reported to the HR.

After Kaliszan provided employees in the Slack channel options to either leave the company or have their stock options reduced, all of them opted for the latter, according to Vice.

"I was shocked. To me that's not just a fireable offence, that's a career-ending offence," one employee told IPVM.

However, a Verkada spokesperson told The Verge that the "incident was investigated and all individuals involved were disciplined accordingly."

Verkada is a fast-growing startup which was selected this year as one of "LinkedIn Top Startups", a list of top companies where America wants to work now, for the second year in a row.

Just before the pandemic took hold, it raised $80 million, catapulting its valuation to $1.6 billion, LinkedIn said.

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