I have a co-worker, this one is the wonderful sort that shirks about, can't do more than one task at a time, and decided to report every wrong move by anyone else in the cubicle farm.

The worst part is, they got ahold of two work cameras normally used for teleconferencing. And they loaded up software to monitor everything that goes on in the 'farm', both cameras aimed just so as to see people coming in and out of the 'farm'.

I know this because every time I approach the coworker to talk about work they are monitoring the cameras. Everytime they come into work they check the last 'crop' of video's to see what happened while they were gone. This coworker is also quite eccentric in their behavior due to personality difficulties.

There are several reasons this is annoying, any one of which I would overlook the behavior:

  • I don't know where the video is going, I don't know if I'm going to end up on youtube or something like that.

  • They use this as a form of control.

  • It feels like they are like a stool pigeon waiting to report anything that goes on.

  • Since I have to work with this coworker, and they are already spending up to what I'd estimate to be one to two hours a day checking the camera, they are not getting work done, which is bad for me because my projects are dependent on this person.

I talked to my boss about it and they said they would do something about it, it's been a few months and the cameras remain. The other problem is I also keep telling my boss that the lack of work from this coworker is unacceptable, but does not believe me because they have a longer history together.

What are my options now to make this stop?

  • 18
    Please include what country you are in. This question may quickly boil down to a legal issue. Also, please give some idea of the hierarchy. You said you are dependent on this person; are they subordinate to you? Peer? What is the nature of your business? If it involves lots of sensitive data, then having a spy may be just what the bosses want; if not, then in many places in the US (and, I think, the EU) the crap your coworker is doing would get them fired if they were lucky and arrested otherwise. Jun 27, 2018 at 5:03
  • About the "long history" (which I understand as disagreements/conflicts): If your bosses don't listen to you, it's not your fault. If they need to feel it (in form of lower team performance, failed projects, or whatever), then let them feel it. It's not your responsibility to correct the boss and/or coworkers non-actions, and doing so in the long term just leads to more problems and bitterness. Your own happiness, health, career & co is not less important than them.
    – deviantfan
    Jun 27, 2018 at 5:40
  • 4
    What would happen if you just removed the cameras?
    – Ben Mz
    Jun 27, 2018 at 6:14
  • 3
    Without a country tag I'd categorize this as unclear what you are asking. Over here (Germany) this is plain illegal, thus reporting to either HR or police would quickly solve it and all the current answers feel so hesitant. Jun 27, 2018 at 9:35
  • 1
    You report something more important for the company. That person is not working in work hours. If their position is not security they are wasting company money. IF they are on time with their tasks it means that they don't need to be hired full time. Jun 27, 2018 at 12:15

5 Answers 5


If you're in the EU, this could be regulated by GDPR. If you want you could start making requests for all footage of you, query data retention policies, etc. Basically add an overhead to the person recording you. If you could get other co-workers to do this it could become a nightmarish bureaucracy.

  • 2
    On its face this has nothing to do with GDPR. GDPR governs commercial usage of personal data, not personal data protection and personality rights per se (which is regulated by other laws; see Art 2 §2.(c) of the GDPR). Of course if the person acts on behalf of the company then GDPR may come into play. Jun 27, 2018 at 16:30
  • @KonradRudolph It may not apply, but the target of the GDPR requests may not know that it doesn't apply to them. Lawyers do this very frequently as a scare tactic. The point is to browbeat this person into changing their behaviour (in this case to stop recording). Jun 27, 2018 at 19:28
  • and what if this is not EU, or the GDPR does not apply? Is your point to make the process cumbersome to this person as to encourage stopping?
    – DarkCygnus
    Jun 27, 2018 at 23:45
  • So your suggestion is to mention GDPR, even though, it has nothing to do with GDPR. If I were the camera man I would laugh my butt of as I filmed you (then deleted the footage).
    – Donald
    Jun 28, 2018 at 23:09

What are my options now?

First, you should try asking that coworker to stop recording you, in a polite but serious way. It's usually better to try reason with these sort of people first.

If this continues, you could try making his lack of progress/work more evident. Send emails (include your boss) reminding of deadlines; send another reminder when he misses them, or similar. The idea is to have a paper trail to back your efforts and his lack of cooperation. After this, he may reconsider adapting his behavior... try checking this great post for more depth on this: What can I do to make a coworkers lack of effort more visible?

Chances are you are not the only one that is bothered by this, so consider getting other's to back you up, or perhaps make a group request. This can prove more effective than just you asking.

Another interesting (yet passive-aggressive) approach could be to film him back, which would surely cause an impression and make him reconsider (just make sure you don't end up slacking ;-). Do note that doing this is not the best and most polite course of action.

If nothing works then perhaps it's a matter of waiting for his delays to start being undeniable so he is forced to stop. A red button approach could be to raise this to HR or the corresponding department, as using company equipment for personal use (not to mention stalking) is surely something that is not authorized. If this is US, in some states this could even be illegal.

If you proceed with this last resort, be cautious and remember the phrase often heard around here: HR is not your friend.


From personal experience: At one workplace, things disappeared. Including very expensive company property. So someone decided to set up a camera to catch the thief. He got video of person X approaching the camera, the camera being covered, the camera being uncovered ten minutes later, and things missing the next morning. X had to resign from his position.

HOWEVER the act of setting up the video camera was NOT LEGAL and everyone was told quite strictly not to do something like this again.

Now in my situation, there was a good reason for setting up a camera. Your colleague has no good reason whatsoever. It also seems to stop him from working. I would ask my manager if he wants to talk to HR about this employee, or if I should do it myself. If it's anywhere in the EU, your colleague will be in deep trouble.


As mentioned the answer will vary depending on local laws. In Australia (NSW) we have the Surveillance Devices Act 2007

In a nutshell if someone wants to set up a camera they have to explicitly have signs on entry and visible that the person will be under video surveillance whilst on premises. That's for open visible cameras. If you want a hidden camera the employer of the company has to have a reason (ie employee X is stealing) and must inform in writing everyone in the workplace who will be affected (except employee X) that the hidden cameras will be operating.

So needless to say what your workmate is doing is absolutely illegal and an anonymous call to the police will take care of that quicksmart.

But as I said thats Australian laws, I'd imagine other western countries would have similar laws to some extent, you haven't told us where you're from so this is hopefully helpful to some extent.


Let everyone know you and they are being recorded.

In most locations where it is legal to record employees in the workplace, it requires notification. If you are in such an area you could take it upon yourself to provide such notification. Your workplace seems to be one in which people may take action without authority from management so you could do so as well.

Check a search engine for examples of "video surveillance" signs. I suggest making your own which includes something like "This area is under constant video surveillance. Please see [your coworker] for details." You might get away with doing so anonymously if you avoid the aforementioned cameras and your coworkers.

The idea here is that any coworker who has put the cameras "out of mind" will be reminded every time they pass the signs that their privacy is being intruded on. Further, the signs will be out for everyone to see including your boss's boss and anyone further up the chain of command who stops by. If anyone confronts you about putting the signs up simply state that they are necessary and you were trying to limit the company's liability for an otherwise illegal/questionable activity. [use the verbiage that describes your location]

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