Spying on Worker Emails Gets New Hurdle in EU Court Ruling
(Bloomberg) — Prying into workers’ emails just became a bit harder following a European Court of Human Rights ruling that a company violated a Romanian man’s privacy rights by firing him after spying on his personal Yahoo! Inc. chats.
Romanian authorities hadn’t properly protected the employee’s “right to respect for his private life and correspondence,” the court’s Grand Chamber ruled Tuesday in an 11-6 vote. “They had consequently failed to strike a fair balance between the interests at stake.”
The ruling focused on the fact the Romanian courts had failed to look at whether the employee had been given prior warning that his communications may be monitored by bosses.
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A lower court in the ECHR ruled in January 2016 that it wasn’t unreasonable for companies to monitor private communications made during working hours.
The ruling highlights the issues that countries around the world have in balancing citizens’ rights and the need to protect national security interests. Privacy campaigners welcomed the decision saying it offers important protections to workers’ rights.
However, Privacy International did sound a note of caution.
The ruling “doesn’t give an absolute right to privacy to employees,” the advocacy group said in a statement.
“As the boundaries of work and private life become even more vague, particularly with the rise of the