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Google accused of creating tool to spy on employees' organizing efforts

The tech giant says the new calendar extension is intended to reduce spam.

Google headquarters in Mountain View, California
Google is being accused of creating a calendar tool to keep tabs on employees' organizing efforts.
Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google's company leadership is being accused of developing an internal tool to keep tabs on employees' efforts to organize protests and discuss labor rights. The tool, installed on all workers' computers, would automatically report employees who schedule a calendar event with more than 10 rooms or 100 employees, according to an employee memo reviewed by Bloomberg.

The memo suggests that the tool "is an attempt of leadership to immediately learn about any workers organization attempts," Bloomberg reported.

Google said Wednesday afternoon that the accusations about the Google Chrome extension are "categorically false."

"This is a pop-up reminder that asks people to be mindful before auto-adding a meeting to the calendars of large numbers of employees," the company said in a statement. 

Google said the internal Google Chrome browser extension was created to combat an increase in spam associated with calendars and events. It also said the extension doesn't collect personally identifiable information and went through the company's standard privacy, security and legal reviews process.

The employees' allegations come as tech workers have increasingly embraced organized labor and activism, particularly at Google. Workers at the search giant have spoken out against the company's initiatives in China, artificial intelligence projects and workplace culture. 

In September, about 80 Google contractors in Pittsburgh voted to join the United Steelworkers Union, "seeking a voice on the job and the opportunity to bargain over wages and working conditions."