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European court gives employees more online privacy at work

The European Court of Human Rights rules companies must now tell employees in advance their emails are being monitored.

Overhead view architect working at computer
A European court decision could grant employees more privacy on work computers. 
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It's always worth remembering that when you're online, someone could be watching.

That's the situation a Romanian man ended up in when he was fired from his job in 2007 for chatting online with his brother and fiancee while at work. His company used surveillance software to track the conversations and used the information as proof he violated a company ban on personal use of corporate resources.

But, you may not find yourself in a similar situation, since the European Court of Human Rights ruled Tuesday that the man's right to privacy was violated because his company didn't tell him ahead of time his computer was being monitored, Reuters reported.

The decision could cut down on companies' abilities to monitor workers' online activities while they are at work and grant employees more privacy on work computers.

European companies must now disclose to employees in advance that they are watching their work emails. The court mentioned that few European countries specifically legislate workplace privacy online, but most countries in the region do require employers to tell workers of monitoring, The New York Times reported.