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Surveillance Cameras and Privacy at Work

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Does video surveillance of lecture halls violate a professor's right to privacy?

Yes, held the European Court of Human Rights in Antovic and Mirkovic v Montenegro.

Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights protects the right to respect for private and family life. The Dean of the School of Mathematics installed video surveillance in a public lecture theatre at a Montenegro university to "protect safety of property, people and students". It also recorded lectures.

The data was protected by codes known only to the Dean and kept for one year. The Personal Data Protection Agency ordered the removal of the cameras. There was no evidence safety was an issue and therefore no legitimate grounds for data collection. Ms Antovic and Mr Mirkovic brought compensation claims. Domestic courts held that Article 8 had not been violated.

By four votes to three the European Court ruled that although the University is a public sphere, private life encompasses business and professional activities. Article 8 had been breached.

Thanks to Karen Jackson of didlaw for preparing this case summary.