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Case law of the European Court of Human Rights

16 Jan 2016

European Court of Human Rights has passed its ruling in the Bărbulescu v. Romania case on the alleged violation of applicant’s right to respect for his private life and correspondence (violation of Article 8 of European Convention of Human Rights). The applicant claimed that his rights were violated due to the fact that his employer monitored his private communications in the Yahoo Messenger account during the applicant’s working hours. The Court considered the proper balance between the need to protect person’s private life and the right of the employer to supervise the functioning of its business and found that it is not unreasonable for an employer to want to verify that the employees are completing their professional tasks during working hours.

The Court ruled that checks of employee’s communications on the account of Yahoo Messenger are not illegal if they are made by the employer within his disciplinary powers and on the assumption that the information in question had been related to professional activities. The court recognized such monitoring to be adequate and proportionate, considering that only employee's communications on his Yahoo Messenger account were examined, and not all the data and documents stored on this computer. Consequently, the Court has ruled that no violation of Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights has taken place. 

The aforementioned ruling was passed, inter alia, in due consideration of the following facts:

1) The applicant used the account of Yahoo Messenger (both accounts – the account created for professional functions on behalf of the employer and personal) during working hours on the computer provided by an employer to perform  professional tasks;

2) The employee had initially claimed that he had used the account of Yahoo Messenger in order to advise clients (professional tasks);

3) The employer verified the applicant's communications on account of Yahoo Messenger;

4) The employer's internal rules of procedure provided that it is prohibited without the employer's permission to depart from established procedures, in particular the use of computers, copiers, phones, fax machines for personal proposes;

5) The monitoring was carried out by the employer within his disciplinary powers.

The ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Bărbulescu v. Romania can be found here.

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