Privacy law prevents monitoring of employees’ Skype calls and messages even in case of calls/messages potentially harmful for employers according to the Italian Data Protection Authority. But what will happen under the new Job Act provisions?
Italian privacy law of monitoring of emails and Internet
The Italian data protection authority issued in 2007 guidelines setting stringent limits to the ability of employers to monitor the usage of emals and Internet. Up to very recently, the Workers’ Bill prevented any type of monitoring of employees. But the Italian privacy authority and the recent case law had identified some exceptions to such prohibition in case of defensive monitoring of employees and provided that they had been previously informed of the potential monitoring. However, the recent changes to the Italian Job Act introduced a much higher level of flexibility.
The case on monitoring of Skype messages
The case subject of the decision of the Italian privacy authority pertained to an employee who had been exchanging Skype messages harmful for her employer’s reputation. Once the employer found out by chance about such messages, he installed on his employee’s PC a software allowing the monitoring of any Skype message even if sent through the employee’s private Skype account and during the time when she was off. And on the basis of such Skype messages had dismissed the employee which challenged the dismissal on the basis of privacy breach.
The Italian data protection authority held that such conduct was in breach of privacy laws and the future monitoring had to be ceased, while the previous messages shall be retained as evidence for judicial proceedings. The Italian privacy authority did not issue fines, but the
What will the outcome be after the Italian Job Act?
The dramatic change in the regulations on the monitoring of employees opens the question on whether the case above would have had a different outcome under the new regime. Is it sufficient providing a privacy information notice to employees in order to monitor their communications? Can such monitoring be considered necessary for the performance of the working activity?
We shall see the position of the Italian privacy authority on the matter, but the law provision is sufficiently broad to allow different interpretations.