• Transcript

    It's one way to lighten up a dull day.

    But not if those private notes to friends you send from your work comms systems aren't so private after all.
    And are instead being watched by your bosses.

    It was such a situation for one Romanian worker that ended up in Strasbourg this week - ten years after he was fired.

    The European Court of Human Rights ruling that his privacy had not been protected ....

    Because his employer had not given him prior notice it was monitoring his messages.

    (SOUNDBITE) (French) HEAD OF THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS, PATRICK TITIUN, SAYING:

    "The Court considered that the employer's surveillance of the employee and his e-mail messages, and the resulting dismissal, were contrary to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. A business cannot restrict the exercise of social privacy and destroy it, even in the workplace."

    The court also said there had not been sufficient assessment of whether there were legitimate reasons to monitor.

    For example, because of a risk to IT systems or of illegal activities online.

    (SOUNDBITE) (French) HEAD OF THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS, PATRICK TITIUN, SAYING:

    "Freedom of one's private life, respect for privacy and confidentiality are priorities, although limitations are sometimes necessary, and the business should have informed the applicant of the surveillance measures.
    It should also have informed him the measures had begun."

    Email privacy has become hotly contested as more people use work addresses for personal correspondence.

    Courts in general have sided with employers on this issue.

    From now, though, the onus on them to tell their workers that they're sharing those private moments, too.