Nosy bosses CANNOT read your private WhatsApp conversations due to ECHR ruling

Reporters can’t resist getting a human rights story wrong

lead

The media has sparked public outrage by suggesting that nosy bosses can now track their employees’ private messages.

No, they can’t.

The European Court of Human Rights yesterday ruled in the case of Bogdan Bărbulescu, a Romanian worker who was sacked in 2007 for using his Yahoo account to send personal messages to his fiancée and brother.

Siding with Bărbulescu’s employer, the court decided that it was “not unreasonable that an employer would want to verify that employees were completing their professional tasks during working hours.”

The case has sparked a media frenzy, the Daily Star going with the nuanced headline:

WARNING: Your boss can now legally read every WhatsApp message you send at work

And the equally subtle, and inaccurate, standfirst:

OUTRAGE as EU court rules it’s OK for bosses to snoop on their employees’ messages

But do not fear.

Bărbulescu’s Yahoo account was set up to answer clients’ queries, so was not actually a personal account at all. The case is no precedent for the idea that bosses can now monitor employees’ “private messages”, as reported by The Independent.

The newspaper also commented:

Rulings of the European Court of Human Rights are binding to countries which have ratified the European Convention on Human Rights, including the UK.

As any eagle eyed lawyer will know, courts are bound only to “take into account” Strasbourg case law, under s2 of the Human Rights Act 1998. And, in some cases, the UK seems to have completely ignored them.

So don’t fret — there is no need to “turn off your squad chat notifications”, as encouraged by The Tab.

Read the judgment in full below:

Case of Barbulescu v. Romania

15 Comments

Anonymous

I’ve previously been critical of KK, but the past week has revealed a limited amount of journalistic competence. Heartfelt congratulations KK.

(26)(2)
Anonymous

I’ve previously been critical of LC commenters, but this comment reveals a limited amount of…

(0)(0)
Jonathan

The Daily Mail emphasised the EU nonsense point, but was sly, quoting a UKIP MEP: an IPSO complaint wouldn’t succeed as the Mail was only reporting (albeit not rebutting…) ‘opinion’…

“Their decision – which affects Britain and all other EU countries that have ratified the European Convention on Human Rights – was quickly seized upon by Euro-sceptics as evidence that Britain should regain its autonomy.

‘As long as Britain is in the EU, we are Treaty bound to abide by rulings from the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg,’ said Diane James, UKIP MEP.

‘British people should make their own laws and have them interpreted by the British Supreme Court. Otherwise we will continue to be burdened with judgements like this made by judges that we did not appoint.’

(0)(0)
Anonymous

“‘As long as Britain is in the EU, we are Treaty bound to abide by rulings from the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg,’ said Diane James, UKIP MEP.”

Hmmm. So: is she
(a) lying through her teeth; or
(b) so spectacularly ignorant of the Treaty to which she claims to be opposed that she makes the rest of the UKIP MEPs (some of whom I’ve met, worked with, and like) look like Nobel prize-winners?

Oh, forgot. She’s a politician. Still, I hope UKIP drops her, by association she’ll make people question their competence.

(0)(0)
Anonymous

The press making up nonsense about the ECHR? NEVER! Where is Not Amused to thoroughly debunk this ludicrous and clearly fabricated article?! The world must be told of the fascist and undemocratic mad men from EUSSR who only the Daily Mail hold to account!!!

(4)(0)
Anonymous

Your author seems to misunderstand the difference between the binding nature (or lack of it) of an ECtHR decision on a domestic Court, and the UK’s treaty obligations.

Also (and this is a query rather than a comment) are there any cases of note where the domestic courts in E&W offered greater HR protection than the ECtHR? I can’t think of any off hand.

(2)(5)
Anonymous

R (Limbuela) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2005] UKHL 66
Re P (A Child) (Adoption: Unmarried Couples) [2008] UKHL 38
EM (Lebanon) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2008] UKHL 64

(1)(0)
Not Amused

While I appreciate the dedication to the cause, it does strike me as a particularly forced piece of spin to try to sell this as a positive.

” But it is brilliant because
1) it doesn’t go quite as far as some newspapers reported AND
2) we might be able to ignore it”.

Well that’s clearly money well spent then. We should join up to more of this completely uncontrollable organisations which only produce judgements half as bad as we thought they were and which we might be able to ignore.

It’s a wonder we bother with domestic courts. What with their obsession with getting things right and actually setting law. What fools.

(7)(10)
Anonymous

There we go. Thanks NA – I’ll go back to reading hate porn on the DM in peace, knowing that everything is awful.

(3)(2)
chancerypupil

EU STRIKES AGAIN SO NOW MY BOS CAN READ MY TEXTS AND STUFF NOW
STOP THE EUROCRAT FAT CATS FROM SAYING IM NOT ALLOWED TO PUT UP AN ENGERLAND FLAG IN MY BAK YARD!!! SOONER WE IS OUT OF THE EU THE BETTER FASHISTS TELLIN ME HOW TO LIVE MY LIFE AND THEY WANT TO LET EVERYONE IN AFRICA AND ASIA BASICALLY MOVE INTO MY SPARE BEDROOM AINT HAPPENIN MAYTE AINT HAPPENIN SHIP THEM BACK TO WHERE THEY CAME FROM AND STOP GIVING OUT £6000 A WEEK TO REFUGEES OMG BUNCH OF FATCATS

(1)(2)
Not Amused

At what point did you decide that the best way to deal with other people’s views was with contempt?

(0)(1)
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