It is now official that employers can read every private message you send through online communication apps, among them, messaging apps WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
These two apps are owned by Facebook and given the privacy measures they take to protect users; this revelation seems rather unrealistic.
Nonetheless, EU judges have ruled that it is possible for your employer to snoop through your chat apps and read all messages conveyed in case it is found that you were communicating during work hours, contrary to the work agreement. However, there is only one way to beat this trap – just stick to sending messages that are work related and no one will question you.
The European Court of Human Rights’ (ECHR) ruling
The news about the legal ability of employers to read through the messages you exchange during work hours comes after a Romanian worker – Bogdan Barbulescu – forwarded his case to the ECHR after his former employer read through his messages before firing him back in 2007.
The judges of the European Court ruled that the employer was within their legal right when reading the private messages of Mr. Barbulescu since he was chatting during working hours via Yahoo Messenger.
According to Mr. Barbulescu, by accessing his messages, the employer had breached his right to confidential correspondence. However, the employer won the case by arguing that he was chatting with his brother and fiancée, as well as other professional contacts.This was contrary to the company rules that clearly stated employees cannot use online communication platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Twitter or even Gmail to carry out personal conversations.
Now that judges have ruled the Romanian company was right in snooping through an employee’s messages, it raises the question of where this ruling will affect and where it will not. There is nothing to worry about because it is not coming to the entire globe, but at the moment, dwellers of Great Britain and those who are part of the European Convention on Human Rights will be affected by this ruling. But who knows, it might come to your home country very soon.
According to the EU judges, the employer only accessed the messages of the employee on the assumption that the communications carried out by the latter were related to workplace activities – a move that is deemed legit. As a result, the court did not see any reason to question the findings.
No unregulated snooping on employees, judges warn
Despite agreeing that the Romanian company was right to snoop on the messages of its employer on Yahoo Messenger, the judges were also very categorical that the courts will now allow unregulated snooping on employees.
To take care of this matter, they recommended that suitable policies be established in the workplace, detailing the kind of information they would want to collect from employees and how they plan to get it.