This article looks at video monitoring in the workplace and the implications for processing data collected in this way. It is the next in our series of articles based on the report on data processing at work by the Article 29 Working Party (‘WP29’), an independent European advisory body on data protection and privacy.
Video monitoring and surveillance continues to present similar issues for employee privacy as before: the capability to continuously capture the behaviour of the worker. The most relevant changes relating to the application of this technology in the employment context are the capability to easily access the collected data remotely (e.g. via a smartphone); the reduction in the cameras’ sizes, making them less noticeable (along with an increase in their capabilities, e.g. high-definition); and the processing that can be performed by new video analytics.
With the capabilities given by video analytics, it is possible for an employer to monitor the worker’s facial expressions by automated means, to identify deviations from predefined movement patterns (e.g. factory context), and more. This would be disproportionate to the rights and freedoms of employees, and therefore, generally unlawful. The processing is also likely to involve profiling, and possibly, automated decision-making, which are legally dodgy (there’s a better way of saying that!).
Therefore, employers should refrain from the use of facial recognition technologies. There may be some fringe exceptions to this rule, but such scenarios cannot be used to invoke a general legitimation of the use of such technology.