In worrying news, companies will now be allowed to read their staff’s private online messages sent via software like WhatsApp during office hours, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled.
The Daily Mail reports that the judgment centres on the case of a Romanian engineer who was fired in 2007 after his company discovered he was using Yahoo Messenger to chat with his fiancée and brother at work.
Judges ruled that a company has a right to ensure that an employee is doing their job, because fuck Article 8 of the Human Rights Act, apparently – which, to remind you, says: “Everyone has the right to respect for his or her private and family life, home and correspondence”.
The decision is binding in countries that have ratified the European Convention on Human Rights, including Britain, which should come as no surprise as Davey Cameron’s not been a fan of WhatsApp keeping their user’s data secure.
Judges also dismissed the engineer’s argument that the company had violated his right to confidential correspondence because company policy prohibited the use of the messaging for personal purposes.
Because, hey, why don’t they wipe their arses with Article 8 which specifically states: “Everyone has the right to uninterrupted and uncensored communication with others”?
The court claimed it was not “unreasonable that an employer would want to verify that employees were completing their professional tasks during working hours”.
It also added that it was fine for the company to read the engineer’s private messages because they had only accessed the messages because it was believed they contained professional communications.
The judges also defended the decision by Romania’s courts to allow transcripts of the engineer’s communications to be used against him in court, saying “it proved that he had used the company’s computer for his own private purposes during working hours”.
The Romanian courts believe they struck a ‘fair balance’ between respect for privacy and the interests of the employer.
Is it just us or do rulings like this make it seem like we’re heading towards a 1984-esque future where thinking about not working is a punishable offence?
Seriously, this seems pretty fucking stupid.