A judgement was passed in January by the European Court of Human Rights that may set a precedent regarding if companies can legally monitor workers’ chats. This ruling came in the case of Bărbulescu v. Romania, in which a worker was fired for using a messenger account for personal purposes. His company monitored his work chats to determine that he wasn’t using the messenger as advised. The ruling means, in effect, companies have the right to monitor private online communications that occur in the workplace.
As pointed out by Mashable, there were two notable points made in that case:
- The account was created for business purposes at the request of his employer, to be used as part of his working process
- The employee was told that personal communication on this messenger was not allowed
Although this ruling doesn’t necessarily mean all employers will violate workplace privacy or monitor employees, it could set a precedent going forward. It highlights the importance of using caution and checking your policy when communicating in the workplace. As reported in TechSpot, “The ECHR’s judgments are binding on countries that have ratified the European Convention on Human Rights, and will set a precedent for future cases involving employee monitoring.”