Een uitspraak van het Europees Hof van de Rechten van de Mens (EHRM) over cameratoezicht in collegezalen gaat verrassend genoeg over het land Montenegro.
Twee docenten slagen er in om het EHRM zo ver te krijgen dat hun land veroordeeld wordt. Die docenten heten Nevenka Antović en Jovan Mirković en zijn hun zaak in 2013 gestart.
Aanleiding is een besluit uit 2011 van de decaan van de wiskundefaculteit van de universiteit van Montenegro om videosurveillance in te stellen in de collegezalen:
The decision specified that the aim of the measure was to ensure the safety of property and people, including students, and the surveillance of teaching (praćenje izvršavanja nastavnih aktivnosti). The decision stated that access to the data that was collected was protected by codes which were known only to the Dean. The data were to be stored for a year.
De twee docenten dienden in 2011 een klacht in bij de lokale privacy autoriteit die in 2012 een bevel aan de faculteit gaf om de camera’s te verwijderen, wat ook gebeurde. De docenten waren daar niet tevreden mee en startten een civielrechtelijke procedure tegen de universiteit. De vordering werd in eerste instantie afgewezen en ook het hoger beroep ging mis. Zij deden vervolgens beroep op het EHRM, waar zij wel gehoor kregen. Het Hof vat de feiten als volgt samen (Information Note):
Facts – The applicants were university lecturers. Following a decision by the dean to introduce video surveillance in a number of the university amphitheatres, they lodged a complaint with Personal Data Protection Agency. The Agency upheld their complaint and ordered the removal of the cameras, notably on the grounds that the reasons for the introduction of video surveillance provided for by section 36 of the Personal Data Protection Act had not been met, as there was no evidence that there was any danger to the safety of people and property and the university’s further stated aim of surveillance of teaching was not among the legitimate grounds for video surveillance. That decision was overturned by the domestic courts on the grounds that the university was a public institution performing activities of public interest, including teaching. Amphitheatres were a working area, just like a courtroom or parliament, where professors were never alone, and therefore they could not invoke any right to privacy that could be violated. Nor could the data that had been collected be considered personal data.
Het Hof komt tot de volgende conclusie (volgens de hierboven genoemde Information Note):
Law – Article 8
(a) Applicability: University amphitheatres were the workplaces of teachers. It was where they not only taught students, but also interacted with them, thus developing mutual relations and constructing their social identity. The Court had already held that covert video surveillance of employees at their workplace must be considered, as such, as a considerable intrusion into their private life, entailing the recorded and reproducible documentation of conduct at the workplace which the employees, who were contractually bound to work in that place, could not evade. There was no reason for the Court to depart from that finding even in cases of non-covert video surveillance of employees at their workplace. Furthermore, the Court had also held that even where the employer’s regulations in respect of the employees’ private social life in the workplace were restrictive they could not reduce it to zero. Respect for private life continued to exist, even if it might be restricted in so far as necessary.
The data collected by the impugned video surveillance related to the applicants’ “private life”, and Article 8 was thus applicable.
(b) Merits: The relevant legislation (section 36 of the Personal Data Protection Act) explicitly provided for certain conditions to be met before camera surveillance was resorted to. However, in the instant case, those conditions had not been met as the Personal Data Protection Agency had indeed found. In this regard (in the absence of any examination of that question by the domestic courts), the Court could not but conclude that the interference with the applicants’ private life constituted by the video surveillance of their workplace was not “in accordance with the law” for the purposes of Article 8.
Conclusion: violation (four votes to three).
Article 41: EUR 1,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage.
Uitspraak EHRM 28 november 2017, Antović en Mirković tegen Montenegro:
- Artikel “EHRM: Plaatsen camera’s in hoorcollegezalen maakt inbreuk op privacy studenten”, IE-Forum België, februari 2018, met overigens een onjuiste link naar de uitspraak.
- EHRM: factsheet on surveillance at the workplace