The Human Services Department would record the computer screens of its public servants during customer phone conversations under an expansion of call monitoring resisted by staff.
A plan to store the videos for up to 90 days has raised fears for customer privacy after the department revealed calls to its Medicare, Centrelink and Child Support lines would trigger screen recordings.
Human Services says the changes would improve its feedback to staff and follow the private sector's adoption of screen capture to monitor calls.
The main public sector union said the department was proposing to micromanage staff and the move would heighten privacy and data security risks.
One in 10 recorded phone conversations would activate a screen capture, a practice Human Services says is no different to a supervisor sitting with staff members and watching their computer monitor during calls.
While the department would continue to warn customers when it records their call, it does not propose telling them specifically when it will also make video files of staff members' computer screens to keep and rewatch.
The recordings would capture client details brought on screen during a phone conversation.
Community and Public Sector Union deputy secretary Melissa Donnelly, who is consulting department staff, said there was nothing in the proposal suggesting it would improve customer service.
"Members of our community are looking for assistance, not to have their private information captured and stored to micromanage staff," she said.
"Australians have a right to access the Department of Human Services with as much dignity as possible, and not only is their data going to be stored, DHS aren't even proposing to tell clients they are doing this."
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Internal documents show the department has trialled screen recording with 600 staff.
Human Services spokesman Hank Jongen said it was seeking staff feedback and had not yet decided to roll out screen recording more widely across the department.
"Screen recording is widely used across the call centre industry. It's used in conjunction with call recordings to provide staff with comprehensive feedback and opportunities for improvement," he said.
The department would store recordings securely and tightly monitor access, Mr Jongen said. It would delete the videos, stored in an encrypted format, after no longer than 90 days.
Private phone calls would remain off-limits from recording under the plan. Only staff members taking client calls and quality checkers would see the customer information shown on computer screens, and the department would audit access to the recordings.
Clients calling Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support numbers could also request their call is not recorded, which would also apply to any screen recording. However staff would be unable to opt out.
University of Sydney associate professor of business information systems Uri Gal said customers may not want to share their information with people watching the screen recording later.
"I would be curious if these data are subjected to algorithmic analyses to extrapolate patterns, or if it's a bunch of supervisors looking at it to see what is happening or not happening," he said.