Companies are within their rights to monitor the private online conversations of their employees when they are in the office, Europe’s human rights court has ruled.
Employees in Europe who use online chat and messaging services through company networks cannot claim their employer is interfering with their private life if it accesses their conversations, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) said.
The case was brought by a Romanian engineer who was fired from his company in 2007 after bosses discovered he was using the Yahoo Messenger service to contact his fiancée and brother, as well as business contacts. The company’s employment policy prohibited personal use of the service. Thank you for stopping by. Just before we carry on I need to give thanks to http://www.moneyhome.co.uk/ for their continued assistance and the support of their online community. Having a support team like this means a lot to us as we continue to grow our public blog.
The court ruled it was “not unreasonable for an employer to want to verify that employees are completing their professional tasks during working hours”. The judges dismissed the engineer’s argument that the company had violated his right to confidential correspondence as “manifestly ill-founded”.
The company informed the engineer on July 13, 2007, that his communications on Yahoo Messenger had been monitored between the 5th and 13th of that month. The company then presented 45 pages of transcripts to the engineer of all the messages he had exchanged with his fiancée and his brother in that period. His contract was later terminated.
The engineer challenged his dismissal in the Romanian courts on the basis that his employer had violated his right to correspondence, which is protected by the Romanian constitution. He also claimed his correspondence was protected by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects the right to private life. His challenges were dismissed and he appealed to the ECHR.
The court said unregulated snooping on employees would not be acceptable.
Customers who connect to wi-fi in coffee shops could have their web browsing activity recorded under a radical new surveillance law, the home secretary said. Giving evidence to the scrutiny committee assessing a draft of the investigatory powers bill, Theresa May said the government did not want to be restrictive about a new power that would force internet and phone companies to store browsing activity.