Video monitoring

In recent decades, the installation of video cameras at workplaces has increased considerably. This technology is being used increasingly in publicly accessible workplaces, such as shopping centers, as well as in places that are restricted to certain people, for example, schools or hospitals.
Case summary

Copland v. the United Kingdom


European Court of Human Rights
3 April 2007

Facts
The applicant Ms.Copland was an employee of a state college. The usage of her telephone (numbers dialled, dates, time and length of calls), e-mail (e-mail addresses, dates and time at which e-mails were sent) and Internet (websites visited, time and duration of visits) were monitored at her workplace in order to ascertain whether she was making an excessive use of college facilities for personal purposes. 

Complaint
Ms.Copland complained that the monitoring of her communications and usage of internet at workplace violated her right to private life.

Court’s ruling
The Court ruled that as there was no law allowing employers to monitor telephone conversations, e-mails and usage of Internet by their employees, the monitoring of Ms.Copland’s activities violated her right to private life.

The Court noted that the applicant had reasonable expectations of privacy for her telephone, e-mail and internet usage at the workplace, as she was not warned that these activities could be monitored and had not give her consent to it.

Human Rights Guide

A European platform for human rights education