EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS DECIDES COVERTLY FILMING THE EMPLOYEES WITH THE SECURITY CAMERAS IS NOT A VIOLATION OF PRIVACY RIGHTS

20 October 2019

The European Court of Human Rights (the Court) published the judgment on 17.10.2019 that the supermarket manager placed both visible and hidden cameras on suspicion of theft, and that the right to respect for private and family life undert article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, wasn’t violated in respect of the dismissal of employees who were applying to the Court.

The Court held that it was appropriate for the domestic court to maintain a balance of interests between the privacy of the employees' private life and the employer's right to protect his/her property and running operations, and to investigate legitimate reasons for surveillance.

Also, the Court distinguished between the levels of privacy an employee could expect depending on location: it is very high in private places such as toilets or cloakrooms, and is high in confined workspaces such as offices. However, it is lower in places that were visible or accessible to the colleagues or the general public.

Moreover, the Court decided violation of the applicants’ privacy did not reach a high degree of seriousness, since the surveillance only lasted 10 days, and a limited number of people watched the recordings, and the recordings were not used for any purpose other than to track down those responsible for the losses.

On the other hand, the Court pointed out the widespread international consensus that employees should be notified, even if they were in the general sense. However, it added protection of significant public or private interests could justify the absence of prior notification.

Furthermore, for the first time, the Court took into consideration that the applicants did not take any other legal remedies, such as filing a complaint with the Data Protection Authority or an action in court for an alleged violation of their rights under the Personal Data Protection Act in their country, and only brought these complaints to the point that the evidence of camera recording was obtained unlawfully in the Labor Court. With this new approach of the Court, the Personal Data Protection Authorities may be considered as one of the domestic remedies to be exhausted for application.

You can find the text of the judgment here.

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Kind regards,

Zumbul Attorneys-at-Law

info@zumbul.av.tr