Privacy, in general, and user data privacy, in particular, are two really hot topics of discussion. This technology hot potato led to the implementation of many privacy laws in recent years.
But somehow users remain wary of software collecting data about them. And frankly put, any software out there collects a certain amount of data about you.
That’s why many Microsoft Teams users are wondering if the program can spy on them. Or if their employer can spy on them using Teams. In this guide, we’ll answer all these questions and many more.
Can Microsoft Teams Be Monitored?
The short answer is Yes. Your employer can monitor what you’re doing within Teams. They can also log conversations, record calls, and track your camera when you’re in a meeting. But there are also things they cannot do. We’ll talk about various scenarios below.
Meet the UpdateRecordingStatus API
The UpdateRecordingStatus API is a tool that Teams admins can use to record your calls and meetings. Basically, when the corresponding API policy has been triggered for a specific user, Teams sends a bot to join that meeting. The bot will then start to record your call.
The good news is that Teams will notify all the meeting participants about the recording via a banner or an audio announcement.
Many companies prefer to record meetings between employees in case of an audit.
What Can My Employer See on Microsoft Teams?
If you’re using a Microsoft Teams account that’s managed by an organization, your employer can track chats, calls, meetings, total online time, and how long you have been away from your machine. They can also track your microphone and camera while you’re in a meeting or call.
However, your employer cannot use your computer microphone and camera to spy on you when you’re not in a meeting or call.
They can also track your location through location sharing. So, your employer will know whether you’re working from the comfort of your home or not.
Furthermore, if the work you are doing is going on within Teams, your employer can track all your activities. They can see what exactly you were doing at any given time by checking the Usage reports.
Can Microsoft Teams Detect Background Apps?
If you’re using a personal computer, Microsoft Teams cannot see what programs and apps you’re running on your device. It cannot monitor your computer activities. In other words, Teams can only track what is done within Teams.
If you want to use an extra precaution measure, you can keep Teams in a separate web browser rather than using the desktop app.
However, if you’re using a company computer, your employer might have installed a surveillance program to track your activities.
Can Teams Video Calls Be Monitored?
If you are using Microsoft Teams with a work email on a company computer, chances are your employer is logging conversations and recording calls. And there could potentially be no notification about that. So, yes, your Microsoft Teams video calls could be monitored without you being aware of it.
Who Can See Microsoft Teams Chats?
Your employer can set up e-discovery on Teams in order to monitor certain keywords in chats. As stated above, if you’re using Teams with a work email, your employer is probably keeping a log of all your chat conversations. This means your chats are not private.
Your boss can see your Teams messages. The platform gives them this option. They can always ask the Teams administrator to access your account. But we’re sure your boss has other things to take care of. Reading your Teams messages would be counterproductive. They’re probably just using a script to monitor certain keywords and nothing more.
Can Teachers See Private Messages on Teams?
If you’re a student and you’re wondering if your teachers can check your private messages on Teams, rest assured, they cannot. As long as you’re using a personal Teams account on your personal computer, your teachers cannot access your private chat conversations.
Microsoft Teams Privacy Settings
Whether you’re an individual user or a team owner, there are many privacy settings you can enable on your end for peace of mind.
For example, you can go to Windows 10’s Settings, and block Teams from accessing your camera and microphone. Of course, you’ll need to re-enable the permission when you’re actively participating in calls or meetings.
Or you can open the app settings and block contacts, disable read receipts, and more.
If you’re a team owner, you can click on Manage team and tweak member permissions, set up guest permissions, and more.
Microsoft’s Privacy Commitments For Teams
The Redmond giant promises to handle your Teams user data in a manner that respects your privacy.
- Microsoft guarantees it does not use your Teams data for advertisement purposes.
- When your Team subscription has ended or expired, Microsoft will delete your data.
- The company does not track multi-tasking activities in Teams meetings.
- Third-parties cannot access your user data. The company also defined clear requirements when it comes to government requests for data.
The Difference Between Spying and Recording Activities
Taken into account the current context, the Work-From-Home system is a reality we must adapt to. Employers have the right to track your work-related activities during working hours.
But they’re not entitled to use Teams, access your microphone and camera or use other means to check what you’re doing outside working hours. That’s called spying.
Are you using a Teams account managed by an organization and a computer that belongs to your employer? Then you should never put anything in text or video that you would not want to be read back to you in a court of law.
After all, there is no presumption of privacy when you’re using a company-owned computer or software.
It’s 2023, we all just wanna know if Teams is like Discord, and will show someone in some dimly lit IT room “Bob is playing Minecraft, 1.5 hrs”.
My boss called me on teams and belittled me. Can this call be pulled? Or does teams record calls from one person to another?
Can the company see your sharing screen in your past meeting call in team? (the meeting already ended and the company has the right to monitor all software,hardware)
I just need to Know, My team have set notification for my ID to show my status(Available or Offline). Is that possible to restrict from my End ? So that no one can add me in there notification to check my status without my knowledge.
hi hi hello says
can the ministry of education see what kind of links and stupid stuff i send to my siblings using my school account? because i literally just sent and deleted what looks like a scam link/video to my sister,its for a prank on my brother but im afraid whoever will see what i send will think otherwise??
Can my boss secretly record my Teams conversations or secretly listen in?
Can microsoft teams see if i am opening a copy of the file which I originally downloaded from teams
Eg: i shared a file from teams to discord so can anyone in teams see when i am opening that copy of the file in discord??
hi, if I log out of Teams on my work computer but not on my phone can my boss still monitor what I’m doing on my computer? Thanks
I am a Systems Admin and one of the things I am responsible for is Teams. Here are some answers to the questions posted based on how my organization uses Teams (and the rest of M365). I hope this information is helpful.
@A: There is no way for Teams to see/hear/record the camera/microphone on your computer when you are *not actively* in a Teams call/meeting. Everything you do in most the M365 apps record some level of your activities in that application, not outside it. There are applications, malware, and hacking tools that can control your camera/microphone without your consent but it is not something that can be done by any of the M365 applications.
@Barb: #1) If there are a lot of people on a call/meeting then Teams will hide some from the main page. This is done by *all* meeting applications (Zoom/etc.). There is a button on the top of the screen that , when clicked, will display the full list of participants on the call/meeting. #2) As another mentioned the Teams presence is based on your activities *in Teams*, not your activities on your computer. See the other answer for details how you can force set your presence.
@Malifa: Teams meetings are just chats with voice/video. If you post a message anywhere in Teams you can go back and edit it at any time. Any message that has been changed will have the poster’s name, the date/time, the word “Edited”, then the message starting on the next line.
@Maulik: No. You can only see the presence icon (colored dot) and if they are leaving messages in chats you are member of. Now the Education version of Teams may have some different capabilities but again you would only be able to see activities in Teams, not any other application.
@Mark: I do not think that Teams can see/record chats going on in the chatbot unless you have used the Teams API to integrate the chat data in Teams, not just make the chatbot appear in a tab in Teams. I could be wrong on this so I suggest you do some investigation about these custom apps and what info is passed between them and Teams when hosted in Teams. There should be a great deal of info on this out there.
@Cam: As an Admin EVERYTHING I do in the M365 Admin Center is recorded, every page I access and every change I make. This log is visible to me with my access level and I can clear the entire log, not a single entry. And it would also record that I did this. Also, just because I cleared the log does not mean it is gone for good. There are backups and most items on M365 are trashed (hidden), and not flat deleted for some time. These logs are stored in MS datacenters (Azure).
Regarding eDiscovery: This is the tool used to get access to every email and chat in our M365 account. Where I work only 2 people (VP and Director) have the ability to read the actual emails and chats. As an Admin I can create and run a search for keywords and other criteria then see a count of records that match, but nothing more. When any one of us (including the VP / Director) do anything in eDiscovery we (IT VP/Director/System Admins) get email/SMS notifications that it occurred (created search/ran search/viewed search contents/deleted items). We use eDiscovery for legal inquiries and to delete Phishing emails sent to our users. Even when we delete emails from our user’s Outlook Inboxes the original emails are still stored and can be recovered by the VP / Director.
Lol at all the questions and not a single answer
Are there any audit logs created to record the watcher’s activities (e.g. employee’s manager, Teams Admin.)? If so, can the logs be deleted? Specifically where are the logs stored?
Mark Summers says
This was informative!
We have built a chatbot outside of MS Teams, and organizations would like to host it in their MS Teams instance as a resource for their employees.
Some of the employees have expressed concerns that their MS Teams admins will be able to see these conversations. Do you know if this compliance logging also records and makes available chat history with external bots that have been installed in an instance of MS Teams?
this helped alot, thx
Maulik Jain says
Can we as teachers see what students are doing being present in the class on browser
I have experienced the ‘away’ setting while working away from other apps. Try the following:
1) Click on your name icon (or the little green ‘available’ check mark if you prefer.
2) Click on the word ‘available’, you will see a drop down to manually set your status.
Click on available. (Manually sets you to available until you reset it)
Click on ‘Duration’ Then set your status to ‘available’
Click on ‘reset after’ and choose how long you want to stay available.
There is a possibility the admins could disable a manual status message, but they haven’t where I work.
“how long you have been away from your machine.”
The problem is, MS Teams is not recording how long you’ve been away from your machine, but you long you haven’t been clicking on on TEAMS window. The unfortunate fact that Microsoft tells this to nobody and that employers assume it operates like Skype did – actually computer idle, is probably getting people reprimanded and fired from their jobs. thanks Microsoft, for design choices that make absolutely zero sense for a remote professional environment!
Malifa Sabir says
During a live Teams meeting can I edit comments that I have already made in the chat section of a Teams meeting, will there be a notification somewhere to show that the comment has been edited by me?
Also once the host has ended the meeting, is it still possible for me to go back to the chat section of the meeting and edit my comment, and will there be a notification to show that it has been edited by me?
Barb Chalmers says
I have 2 questions.
My manager suddenly claimed during an audio only meeting that should could not tell I was there. Is that actually possible? Could my little ID box icon have vanished mysteriously? It is my suspicion that she was pretending for the purpose of causing trouble.
Also. She accuses me regularly of being away from my desk when the teamsoght shows as yellow. However it seems to go yellow when I am using web based work pages not connected to teams. Or if I am drafting letters or notes in onenote. What kind of inactivity triggers the yellow light?
Can they use your camera on a meeting even if it’s off?