Barbulescu v. Romania – on the issue of monitoring the Internet activities of employees

(Decision of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Barbulescu v. Romania, Complaint No. 61496/08, from 5 September 2017)

In this case, the European Court of Human Rights considered a termination notice given to an employee who was working for a private company. The reason for the notice was the fact of using the program for communication with the clients for private purposes during the working hours. The employee took legal action against that notice and demanded its cancellation. However, the legal action was dismissed arguing that the employer acted in compliance with the Labour Code and the claimant was properly informed about the rules of the company.

The claimant filed the legal action with the European Court of Human Rights, claiming that his emails were protected under Article 8 of the Convention and that the national courts did not allow him to summon witnesses to prove that no damage was occurred on the employer’s side by his actions.

The European Court of Human Rights did not comply with the claim. It decided that in this case it was a limited and reasonable interference in the claimant's privacy, and it is reasonable for the employer to monitor whether employees are actually working in their working hours.