Privacy Advisor

FRANCE—Sanction Against Controller Putting Employees Under Permanent Watch

March 1, 2013


By Pascale Gelly, CIPP/E

Security agents complained to the French Data Protection Authority (CNIL) that their employer had implemented a video surveillance system pointing in the direction of their workplace and filming continuously.

This system was installed after several complaints about recurring absence of the guards, although the employer argued during the CNIL investigation that the processing purpose was only to ensure the security of people and assets.

The CNIL considered that it was not necessary nor proportionate to maintain employees under permanent watch, as only a particular situation or specific risks to the people under watch could justify a constant surveillance, not a risk to third parties  nor belongings. In the case at stake, the CNIL was of the opinion that the employer wanted to control the activity of its employees and considered that the processing was not proportionate to this purpose.

The authority decided on 3 January to order the employer to put an end to the continuous feature of the processing. Because of the security purpose of the means, it limited the financial penalty to one symbolic euro. However, the CNIL decided to make public its sanction decision. The reluctance of the company to comply is likely to have played a role in the latter decision.

Pascale Gelly, CIPP/E, of the French law firm Cabinet Gelly, can be reached at pg@pascalegelly.com.