Seili Suder “Protection of employee privacy in the digital workplace”

On 6 December at 11:00 Seili Suder will defend her doctoral thesis “Protection of employee privacy in the digital workplace”.

Professor Merle Erikson, University of Tartu, School of Law
Professor Andra Siibak, University of Tartu, Institute of Social Studies

Assistant Professor Dr. Marta Otto, University of Lodz, Poland

Today’s workplaces are becoming increasingly digitalized. New applications and smart devices enable employers to collect enormous quantities of employees’ personal data from a vast array of sources through inexpensive means. These practises may be accompanied by intensification of the processing of employee data and possible intrusions to their privacy. My dissertation examines how the current privacy and data protection framework in the EU is equipped to protect employees from privacy-invasive monitoring practices. The dissertation is based on five peer-reviewed publications and focuses on privacy and data protection issues concerning three specific digital monitoring technologies – social media monitoring, monitoring microchipped employees and digital monitoring technologies, e.g. contact tracing technologies, used during COVID-19 pandemic. The aim of the dissertation is to ascertain whether there is a need for specific rules at the EU level that regulate privacy and data protection if an employer uses digital monitoring technologies and on what conditions employee monitoring using these technologies should be allowed. The findings of this dissertation indicate that due to the increased use of the digital monitoring technologies and imbalance of power in an employment relationship, EU legislation is needed to strengthen employees' ability to reject privacy-invasive monitoring technologies and give employers clarity under what conditions monitoring is allowed. EU legislation should clearly state that if not necessary, employers should refrain from the use of digital monitoring technologies. Exceptions might be allowed only in case of criminal activities, serious malpractice or other just causes e.g. prevention of accidents at work. Legislation should also entail stricter obligations for employers, such as consultations with employees’ representatives. Covert monitoring and the possibility to gather movement data inside the workplace should be prohibited.

The defence will be held in Zoom:

Meeting ID: 966 7067 3851
Passcode: 845651

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