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Chinese Companies Use 'Third Eye' Software to Monitor Tech Workers

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surveillance camera and Mao Zedong's face in Tiananmen Square

Credit: Thomas Peter / Reuters

Jiang Yi knew he was being watched at his last workplace from the moment he signed into the office network.

"I was working 12 to 16 hours a day writing code. I reached the point of breakdown when my boss came to me one day waving a piece of paper asking me why I watched two videos instead of doing my work," Jiang says.

The mid-sized tech company in Beijing used DiSanZhiYan (or "Third Eye") surveillance software to put workers under its watchful gaze. The system monitors web usage and idle time, and pings employers when a worker is viewing videos on streaming sites or looking at job listings.

"The system keeps employees afraid," Jiang says. "They know that they are being watched. The 9-9-6 life was miserable enough without having to live in fear," he says, referring to the "hustle" culture of working 12 hours a day from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week.

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