France has strict laws on the ability of a company to monitor its employees’ computers. But a recent French decision found that files created by an employee on a computer issued by the company for work purposes are presumed professional unless the employee identified them clearly as personal. So the company can open these files without the employee being present and without telling the employee in advance.
At least that is according to recent post in Proskauer’s Privacy Law Blog. The decision is in French so I am assuming that Ms. Martin’s French is better than mine. (Google’s translation of the case is not very good.)
“Until this case, the case law was unclear on whether folders or files located on an employee’s work computer but titled with the employee’s name or initials would be afforded privacy protection under workplace privacy laws. However in this ruling, the French Supreme Court made clear that all files created by an employee on an employer’s computer belong to the employer unless they are expressly identified as personal. By adopting this position, the French Supreme Court was consistent with the French Data Protection Agency (CNIL) which, since 2002, has advised that employees should be cautious when using their work computers for personal purposes.”
- French employers can open files located on a company-issued computer provided that they are not clearly identified as personal by Cecile Martin for Proskauer’s Privacy Law Blog
- Court’s Decision (in French)