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ECtHR: Employers are not allowed to simply monitor employee chats

Tuesday, September 5th, 2017 | Gadgets

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg has decided that companies are not allowed to monitor private chats of employees in the workplace simply and without restrictions. The court did not, however, rule out a general ban on employee monitoring.

A man from Romania, who had been dismissed by his employer, had been accused after having sent messages to his relatives from his workplace. This is about health issues and his sexual life. These chats were recorded by the employer.
For the communication, the man used an account of the Yahoo messenger, which, according to the court, had been established at the employer's request to communicate with customers. On his release, the man was presented with 45 pages of private communication chat protocols, which had taken place between 5 and 12 July 2007. The company had expressly prohibited employees from using the Internet in the employment contract.
The employer should have informed about monitoring measures
The court criticized above all that the employer had previously not informed the man about the possibility of monitoring. In addition, it would have to be possible to control the extent to which certain chats are being monitored or not. The ECHR notes that the Romanian courts had not taken sufficient account of the issue of the breach of the applicant's privacy. The Court of First Instance does not provide for financial compensation for the applicant.
The European Court of Human Rights is an instrument of the Council of Europe and has no connection with the EU institutions. The decisions have an influence on the jurisprudence of the Member States. The court had also ruled that secret mass surveillance by citizens was illegal.

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