Recommended reading: cctv and workplace privacy

By EDRi · September 21, 2005

In the series Information Technology & Law, the Dutch University of
Tilburg has published a volume on camera surveillance and workplace
privacy, which includes 11 country reports. The European countries covered
by the report are: the Netherlands, Belgium, the UK, Germany, Hungary and

The editors argue that Europeans, similar to the US, have a ‘reasonable
expectation of privacy’. But is this right codified in national law or
perhaps granted by case law? When it comes to workfloor privacy, there is
no specific national legislation in any of the examined EU countries.
Though data protection authorities have drafted useful codes of conduct,
employers seem to have an advantage when a case comes to court. “The
overall picture is that the lack of legislation has a negative effect on
the privacy expectations of employees and that little has been done in
general to strengthen their vulnerable position.”

In general, the editors note that the concept of reasonable expection of
privacy is usually only tested in court in criminal and dismissal cases.
“In these cases, the privacy intrusion is sufficiently important to go to
court (…) Therefore, the case law does not draw a clear picture of what
‘normal’ people might expect. This is especially the case with camera
surveillance technology that is permanently used to monitor behaviour in
public areas and permanent workplace monitoring of, for instance, e-mail.”

Reasonable Expectations of Privacy?
Eleven country report on camera surveillance and workplace privacy
Edited by Sjaak Nouwt, Berend R. de Vries and Corien Prins, IT & Law nr 7,
The Hague 2005