The French regulatory body that oversees data protection (the Commission nationale de l'informatique et des libertés or CNIL) recently issued a warning to Bresse Dis, a company operating shopping centers under the name E. Leclerc, regarding its use of surveillance equipment. The CNIL believed that the presence of 240 cameras, which monitored E. Leclerc’s 230 employees, was both excessive and disproportionate to the purpose they were trying to carry out. The cameras, installed in various locations, including locker rooms, medical offices, break rooms, as well as locations where there was toilet access, enabled the employees to be monitored continuously throughout the day. While employers are technically allowed, under French law, to monitor their employees to the extent that the purpose of such monitoring is legitimate and that the data collected is relevant to the purpose of the collection, in this case, the monitoring viewed as was “excessive” and “disproportionate” since (1) the cameras were used to control the employee’s work schedule, (2) the employees were not fully informed of the surveillance equipment installation, and (3) the employer failed to ensure confidentiality and security of the personal data, since the videos were easily accessible. CNIL gave E. Leclerc three months to modify its monitoring policy. Should the company fail to do so, CNIL may impose sanctions.

TIP: If operating in France, remember that employees should be sufficiently informed of the use of surveillance equipment, and the use of such equipment should always be reasonable and support the purpose intended. When in doubt, it may be appropriate to work with CNIL before engaging in monitoring to determine the appropriate steps to take.