IEFBE 2481

EHRM: Gebruik verborgen camera's om diefstal door kassières te ontdekken is disproportioneel

EHRM 9 januari 2018, IT 2485; IEFbe 2481; Application nos. 1874/13 en 8567/13 (López Ribalda en anderen tegen Spanje) Een filiaalmanager van een Spaanse supermarkt merkte enkele onregelmatigheden op tussen voorraadniveaus van de supermarkt en wat er dagelijks werd verkocht. Om de economische verliezen te onderzoeken heeft hij zowel zichtbare als verborgen bewakingscamera's geïnstalleerd. De cassières werden op de hoogte gesteld van de aanwezigheid van de zichtbare, maar niet van de onzichtbare camera's. Alle werknemers die verdacht werden van diefstal werden opgeroepen voor individuele vergaderingen. Tijdens deze vergaderingen erkenden de eisers in deze zaak hun betrokkenheid bij de diefstallen. Eisers vochten hun ontslag aan met een beroep op inbreuk op hun privacy. De nationale gerechten oordeelden dat de inbreuk gerechtvaardigd was. Het Hof oordeelt dat het gebruik van de bewakingscamera's niet proportioneel was. De kassières waren niet op de hoogte van het bestaan van de verborgen camera's en het doel van deze camera's.

67. The Court observes that, in the present case, the situation differs from that in Köpke. Indeed, in that case, at the time the employer carried out the covert video surveillance following suspicions of theft against two employees, the conditions under which an employer could resort to the video surveillance of an employee in order to investigate a criminal offence had not yet been laid down in statute (although the German Federal Employment Tribunal had developed in its case-law important guidelines regulating the legal framework governing covert video surveillance in the workplace). In the present case, however, the legislation in force at the time of the facts of the case clearly established that every data collector had to inform the data subjects of the existence of a means of collecting and processing their personal data (see paragraphs 29 and 30 above). In a situation where the right of every data subject to be informed of the existence, aim and manner of covert video surveillance was clearly regulated and protected by law, the applicants had a reasonable expectation of privacy.

68. Furthermore, in the present case and unlike in Köpke, the covert video surveillance did not follow a prior substantiated suspicion against the applicants and was consequently not aimed at them specifically, but at all the staff working on the cash registers, over weeks, without any time limit and during all working hours. In Köpke the surveillance measure was limited in time – it was carried out for two weeks – and only two employees were targeted by the measure. In the present case, however, the decision to adopt surveillance measures was based on a general suspicion against all staff in view of the irregularities which had previously been revealed by the shop manager.

69. Consequently, the Court cannot share the domestic courts’ view on the proportionality of the measures adopted by the employer with the legitimate aim of protecting the employer’s interest in the protection of its property rights. The Court notes that the video surveillance carried out by the employer, which took place over a prolonged period, did not comply with the requirements stipulated in Section 5 of the Personal Data Protection Act, and, in particular, with the obligation to previously, explicitly, precisely and unambiguously inform those concerned about the existence and particular characteristics of a system collecting personal data. The Court observes that the rights of the employer could have been safeguarded, at least to a degree, by other means, notably by previously informing the applicants, even in a general manner, of the installation of a system of video surveillance and providing them with the information prescribed in the Personal Data Protection Act.

70. Having regard to the foregoing, and notwithstanding the respondent State’s margin of appreciation, the Court concludes in the present case that the domestic courts failed to strike a fair balance between the applicants’ right to respect for their private life under Article 8 of the Convention and their employer’s interest in the protection of its property rights.