If you had an email account that was associated with you, would you assume a certain level of privacy in the messages that you send and receive? Presumably you would, but what if the email account was associated with you, but it was owned by the company that you work with? Could you expect the same level of privacy then?


That is the question that the European courts have recently tried to answer in which in a recent ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, they say that companies need to tell employees in advance if their work email accounts are being monitored, but at the same time affording them some level of privacy.

This follows a case from 10 years ago in which a man from Romania was fired after the company he worked for found out that he used his work email account to send and receive private messages. However the ECHR found that while the firing was just, they did not think that the Romanian courts did a good job at protecting the man’s private correspondence as his employer did not give him prior notice that his communications might be monitored.

According to Esther Lynch, confederal secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation, “This set of requirements will restrict to an important extent the employers’ possibilities to monitor the workers’ electronic communications. Although it does not generally prohibit such monitoring, it sets high thresholds for its justification. This is a very important step to better protect worker’s privacy.”

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