PL&B UK E-news, Issue 56

1. UK employee wins monitoring case at European court

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that a Welsh college was wrong in law in monitoring the private e-mail, phone and Internet use of one of its employees.

The case, which was brought against the Government, concerned the college’s activities in monitoring excessive use of its resources in 1999, well before the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act came into effect.

The college had no policy in place regarding monitoring, and did not seek the employee’s consent.

The Court concluded that “telephone calls from business premises are prima facie covered by the notions of ‘private life’ and ‘correspondence’ for the purposes of article eight of the European Convention on Human Rights.”

A settlement of £3,000 will be paid to the employee in question, as well as £6,000 in costs.

A report discussing the implications of this case will be published in the May/June issue of the PL&B International Newsletter.  

2. Consultation on data retention

The Home Office is seeking views on its proposals to implement the EU Data Retention Directive for mobile and fixed line phones. The Draft Regulations suggest that phone companies retain information on calls for 12 months. The requirement is to reveal the number where the call was made from, where to, the subscriber’s name and address, and the time and duration of the call. This is what already largely happens under a voluntary code.

The UK is postponing the application of this Directive regarding the retention of communications data on internet telephony, internet access and Internet e-mail until 15 March 2009.

The consultation will run until 11 June, and the Regulations will have to be implemented by 15 September 2007.

The Information Commissioner will supervise the security of the data stored.

See the consultation paper.

3. New British Standard on destroying confidential material

The New British Standard for the secure destruction of confidential material (BS 8470:2006) applies to confidential information in all its forms. It requires companies to dispose of confidential information by shredding or disintegration. Confidential materials include paper records, computer hard drives, CDs/DVDs and even company uniforms.

Organisations should look out for information destruction companies that comply with and are inspected to BS 8470 as they have committed to transporting, storing and destroying their clients’ confidential waste to the requirements of the Data Protection Act.

See more details on information destruction and the new standard.

4. Thomas ready for second term

Richard Thomas has been re-appointed as Information Commissioner from 29 November this year until June 2009. Thomas started his appointment as Information Commissioner in November 2002. At his own request, this second term will be a short one, finishing when he turns 60 in 2009.

For further details on the Privacy Laws & Business UK Newsletter, please click here.

Copyright Privacy Laws & Business 2007