The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that the line is crossed where surveillance monitors a space where people are able to create a social identity. It does not matter that this may also be their place of work.

A University in Montenegro installed video surveillance in a lecture theatre to “protect the safety of property, people and students.” The surveillance also recorded lectures and the data was kept for one year, protected by codes only known by the Dean. The cameras were ordered to be taken down by the Personal Data Protection Agency and two lecturers brought claims for violation of their Article 8 right, a right to a private and family life.

By majority vote, the ECHR ruled that Article 8 had been violated. Whilst the lecture theatre was a public space, it was also a space where lecturers interacted with students on a social level. There was no evidence that safety was an issue and therefore the University could not justify that its surveillance measures, and the violations of rights that followed, were a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

We published a similar update on the case of Bărbulescu v Romania which dealt with monitoring of employee emails and calls. If you have surveillance in the workplace, be sure that employees’ rights are observed and the correct balance between those rights and the legitimate needs of the business are achieved.