Editorial Director: Giusella Finocchiaro
Web Content Manager: Giulia Giapponesi

posted by admin on febbraio 1, 2012


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With a series of recent measures, the Italian Privacy Authority has declared unlawful the use of video surveillance systems installed in four workplaces, one in a public administration workplace, one in a private company and two in social health organizations.

In all four cases, surveillance cameras had been installed in violation of the Workers’ Statute, which prohibits all remote video control of employees, and also in violation of laws for the protection of personal data.

The action which a number of people had urged the Authority to take, established the illegality of the processing of such data and has thus disabled use of the footage taken in violation of the law.

In the particular case of measures taken against a rest home the use of cameras in the area where employees clock in and out was banned permanently.

In the other three cases, the Authority has banned the use of cameras located at the entrances to workplaces, while awaiting the implementation of the procedures provided for by the Workers’ Statute (agreement with the company’s union representatives, or authorization of the Provincial Department of Labour and Employment).

In motivating these bans the Authority has confirmed that the remote control of work exists even in conditions of non continuous surveillance and also in cases where the cameras are indicated by notices. In order to comply with the regulations, however, the installation of cameras must always adhere to the procedures established by the Statute for the protection of workers.

The recent firing of a British employee who seems to have lost her job for posting a complaint on her Facebook profile about her salary, leads us to thinking again about the question of the uses employees make of technological resources in Italy. Here we are talking about Facebook only because it is the most widespread social network.

1) Is it forbidden to use Facebook in the workplace?

Not always, it depends, the employer has the right to choose.

2) How can we know what the employer’s choice is?

We need to read employer policy or the guidelines (names can vary greatly) also keeping one eye on the Guidelines of the Italian Data Protection Authority.

3) What if policies do not exist?

Obviously rules can be found elsewhere, for example in the contract. In this case work tools are only supposed to be entrusted to the employee for professional use.

4) Could professional policies provide for the use of Facebook for personal reasons?

Generally, yes. An employer’s choices can vary widely. The employer may also exercise a choice of leniency.

5) What if the employer is a public body?

In such cases the matter is rather more delicate. We have to remember that the criminal code punishes the crime of embezzlement.

6) Are workers in any way limited when they express thoughts on Facebook regarding their work or employer?

They are limited by norms of a general nature which might be applied in the same way to Facebook as to any other circumstances, and which could be, for example, the duty of professional loyalty, the principle of fairness, the obligation of non-competition, the norms of personal data protection, and also the respect of honour and of other people’s reputations.

7) Are employers allowed to use information about their workers found on Facebook?

If it is found through legal channels through Facebook’s particular chain of consent, then yes.

8) Should information found on Facebook be considered as private?

It depends on the meaning of “private”. Public information on Facebook is directly or indirectly visible to authorized individuals (for example, friends, friends of friends) and so potentially posted to many individuals.

9) Can information on Facebook only be used for certain purposes (e.g. personal) and not for others (e.g professional)?

Only if this limitation is expressly stated. At the moment it is not possible.

10) Do we need an ad hoc law?

Germany is thinking in this direction. Personally I am still against special laws for every technological innovation. What we need is greater awareness.


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