HomeInsightsEuropean Court of Human Rights finds breach of Article 8 in relation to installation of video surveillance cameras at University in Montenegro

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The case concerned an invasion of privacy complaint by two professors at the University of Montenegro’s School of Mathematics, after video surveillance had been installed in the lecture halls in which they taught.

The applicants said that they had had no effective control over the information collected and that the surveillance had been unlawful.

The national courts rejected their claim for damages, finding that the question of private life had not been at issue as the auditoriums where the applicants taught were public areas.

The ECtHR rejected the argument that the case was inadmissible as no privacy rights had been breached as the area under surveillance had been a public, working area. The ECtHR noted that it had previously found that “private life” might include professional activities and considered that was indeed the case with the applicants. Article 8 was therefore applicable.

On the evidence, the ECtHR found that the camera surveillance amounted to an interference with the applicants’ right to privacy and that such surveillance had violated national law. In fact, the national courts had wrongly not considered whether there was any legal justification for the surveillance due to their (incorrect) decision at the outset that there had been no invasion of privacy, whereas the national data protection authorities had already considered it to be an interference and had found that it had not been in accordance with national law. For example, national law said that video cameras could be used to monitor areas of access to official premises, but in this case they had been set up in lecture halls.  Further, national law provided that surveillance could be carried out if its aim, such as preventing danger to property or people, could not be achieved in any other way. The national data protection authorities had found no such danger existed and the surveillance of teaching was not a legal justification.

The ECtHR concluded that there had been a breach of Article 8. (Antovic and Mirkovic v Montenegro (application no. 70838/13) (28 November 2017) — to read the judgment in full, click here).