I see you: surveillance of workers


Innovations in information technology have precipitated unprecedented ways in which to monitor workers. The newness of information technologies combined with the pace of innovations have provided an occasion for further legal consideration. Legal constraints on monitoring have largely been left to the contracts between the parties; though notice to workers of monitoring has been a factor in some court decisions. With regards to contract, there are familiar labour law themes such as an imbalance in bargaining power. Information technology adds the detail of information asymmetry: workers are generally not as well informed as to the ways in which technologies work nor to what they may be consenting. Some courts have also instituted notice and consent requirements.

This procedural focus should be viewed with some scepticism because it only leads to a right to notice, not a right to privacy. In considering the content of a substantive right to privacy at work, we are confronted with questions that demand further deliberation, for example: for what purpose are employers monitoring workers; what is meant by the European Court of Human Rights’ prohibition on reducing workplace privacy to zero? 


David Mangan

David is based in Ireland at Maynooth University. He is also an Adjunct Professor at ‘universite catholique Lyon and at Osgoode Hall Law School (Continuing Professional Development) . He is a member of the editorial board, and a European Developments editor, of the European Labour Law Journal. He is also a member of the Italian Labour Law e-Journal’s editorial board. He contributes to Wolters Kluwer’s Regulating for Globalisation blog. Prior to moving to Ireland, David was Associate Professor and Associate Dean (International) in a UK university.