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European court says bosses can monitor employees’ private online messages

world Updated: Jan 14, 2016 14:47 IST
HT Correspondent
European court

The European Court of Human Rights delivered the verdict in a case involving a Romanian engineer who was fired after using Yahoo Messenger not only to communicate with professional contacts, but also to send messages to his fiancée and brother, an Independent report said.(Reuters File Photo)

A European court has ruled that companies have the right to monitor their employees’ private online messages, according to a report in The Independent.

The European Court of Human Rights delivered the verdict in a case involving a Romanian engineer who was fired after using Yahoo Messenger not only to communicate with professional contacts, but also to send messages to his fiancée and brother, the report said.

“Bogdan Mihai Barbulescu was asked to create the Yahoo account in order to answer clients’ queries. In 2007, he was approached by his employers and told they had been monitoring his chats over several days, citing the company policy that the service should have been used for work purposes only,” the report added.

“This decision is significant for a number of European countries. There’s been a very strict division between employers’ ability to look at private stuff and employers’ ability to look at company stuff and this decision will break that down,” Michael Burd, head of employment at London firm Lewis Silkin, told Bloomberg.

Bowing to pressure from the public, the Indian government recently withdrew a draft policy that sought to control secured online communication, including through mass-use social media and web applications such as WhatsApp and Twitter.

Communications and information technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the draft National Encryption Policy will be reviewed before it is again presented to the public for their suggestions.

According to the original draft, users of apps such as WhatsApp and Snapchat would have been required to save all messages for up to 90 days and be able to produce them if asked by authorities.