The Guardian view on snooping at work: bosses are one thing, but don’t forget Big Brother | Editorial

A ruling that employers can sometimes read our emails and messages has met with outrage. That’s healthy. But the surveillance potential of the tech giants and the state remain the greater danger

The most surprising thing to emerge from the European court’s judgment that employers have a right to look at an employee’s email is that this right is not absolute. There is a presumption of privacy even for employees in the workplace. That is not absolute, either, and in the case of Bogdan Bărbulescu, the Romanian software engineer who fought the case against his employers as far as it would go, his right to privacy did not extend to concealing from them the fact that he was using company resources for private ends.

The detail matters here. He was accused of using the company’s messaging account, set up to liaise with customers, for private conversations. He denied this. The company doubted his denial, examined the account, and found he had indeed been using it for purposes that it had explicitly forbidden. In a rather extravagant humiliation, his employers printed out a week’s worth of his private chats – 46 pages – and circulated them around the office, complete with what the court describes as “details of his sexual health”.

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from Network Front | The Guardian


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