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Monitoring private communications on employer’s messenger service breached human rights

Makbool Javaid

In Bărbulescu v Romania, Bărbulescu (B) created a Yahoo Messenger account, at his employer’s request, for the purpose of responding to clients’ enquiries. B was told that his communications had been monitored and showed he had used the account for his own purposes, including exchanging messages with his brother and his fiancée. B was subsequently dismissed for breaching the company’s policy prohibiting the use of company resources for personal purposes. The European Court of Human Rights held that there had been a violation of B’s human rights under Article 8, the right to respect for private life and correspondence. There was no evidence of any consideration by the Romanian courts whether B had been warned that his communications on Yahoo Messenger might be monitored or informed of the nature or the extent of the monitoring. In addition, there had been no determination of the reasons for justifying the monitoring or whether less intrusive measures could be used.

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