Privacy Advisor

ITALY—Use of company’s video-surveillance systems forbidden

December 1, 2012

Panetta_RoccoBy Rocco Panetta

The Italian Data Protection Authority (Garante) has recently forbidden a call-center company the use of a video-surveillance system which was able to detect both employees’ images and conversations. Following the Garante decision, now, the company cannot process employees’ personal data in such an unlawful way anymore.

The reactivation of the above cameras, in fact, will be subject to the provisions of Law No. 300/1970, the so-called Workers’ Statute, which allows the installation of audiovisual systems—and the relevant employer’s control activity—only for business organization, productive needs and/or for safety purposes, with the union’s agreement. In the absence of such an agreement, this processing activity shall be authorized by the competent branch office of the Ministry of Labour.

During the inspections carried out by the Guardia di Finanza (the Italian Fiscal Police)—aimed at verifying the legitimacy of such video-surveillance system—the company, indeed, was not able to demonstrate either the existence of such business needs or the compliance with the data protection legislation in force. Moreover, this unlawful situation was aggravated by the fact that the system at issue was able of picking up all workplace’s sounds and conversation.

Now the documentation concerning the company, which has already been sanctioned for not having properly informed its employees of the cameras’ presence, and the details concerning its illicit video-surveillance activity, has been transmitted to the judicial authority, which will evaluate any possible criminal liability profile.

Rocco Panetta is an Italian lawyer and partner of Panetta & Associati Studio Legale in Rome. He is the former head of legal at the Italian Data Protection Authority and a member of the IAPP Europe Advisory Board.