The European Court of Human Rights recently held in the case of Lopez Ribalda & Ors v Spain, that a Spanish supermarket breached Article 8 right to privacy of the European Convention of Human Rights when it installed covert surveillance cameras.
The supermarket had installed the surveillance cameras to tackle suspected theft. Employees were only informed about the visible cameras, not those that had been placed covertly. Several employees were dismissed relying on covert images. The workers in question alleged breach of Article 8 and data protection rights.
A Spanish court previously held that the measure was justified, appropriate, necessary and proportionate. The court is Spain was of the view that no other equally effective means of protecting the employer's rights would have interfered less.
The ECtHR however took an opposing view saying surveillance by cameras in the workplace represents a considerable intrusion into private life and said a fair balance between the parties interests had not been struck. The Court added that to comply with data protection laws, workers must be "explicitly, precisely and unambiguously" informed of the existence of a personal data file, the purpose for collection, how data will be processed and the recipients of the data.
Guidance from the Irish Office of the Data Protection Commissioner on CCTV (including covert surveillance) and data protection is available here.
- Judgment L_pez Ribalda and Others v. Spain - Covert surveillance of super market cashiers was privacy violation (1).pdf - 128 Kbytes
Friday, 26 January 2018