'Big brother' watches Indian call centre workers
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'Big brother' watches Indian call centre workers

Express News Service | August 29, 2005

New Delhi, August 29: When Neha Sharma reaches her office in the suburb of Gurgaon, she is frisked by the guard. Her handbag is searched and her mobile phone and any pens or notebooks are removed. Inside her cubicle, where she takes calls from American and British customers for Hero ITES, a major Indian provider of outsourced business services, cameras watch her constantly. Her phone conversations are recorded. When Sharma leaves for the day, the contents of her bag are checked again.

This is the new world - some call it Orwellian - of Indian call centers, where local workers provide customer service and technical support for companies around the globe. Following a spate of incidents where information about customers was leaked or sold, the industry has beefed up security to reassure clients that their data is safe.

“Everything you do - your tea break, how long you talk on the phone, how often you leave the office for a break - is watched,” said Sharma, 23, who recently joined the call center’s staff. She agreed to be interviewed about her work experiences on condition that a pseudonym be used.

Nilesh Kothari, chief operating officer of Hero ITES, said of the security measures, “Our clients are three of the world’s largest credit card companies and we have always followed strict norms. Although we’ve had no untoward incident, we are telling employees to be even more vigilant than before — but without putting extra pressure on them. And people have been very responsive.”

 


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