The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has ruled that employers may, in certain circumstances, have the right to monitor employees WhatsApp messages.

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The case involved an engineer in Romania who was fired after using Yahoo Messenger to communicate with his brother and fiancee during working hours.

The ECtHR ruled that it was: “not unreasonable that an employer would want to verify that employees were completing their professional tasks during working hours.”

The judge in this case dismissed the employee’s claim that his right to privacy had been breached as this form of private correspondence had been interfered with. This case has important consequences for human rights and employment law, as previously it was generally regarded that interference with private messages would amount to a breach of human rights. Case law in this area could potentially take an interesting turn and it is possible that subsequent similar cases come out of the UK.

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