Copland v. United Kingdom

ECHR 62617/00 (2007)

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Copland v. United Kingdom

European Court of Human Rights
ECHR 62617/00 (2007)

Facts

Lynette Copland (plaintiff) was an employee of a public university in the United Kingdom (the government) (defendant). The government was directly responsible for the actions of Copland’s university. As an employee, Copland had access to a telephone, the Internet, and email through the university’s systems. The university monitored these communication systems with automatically generated information to determine whether the systems were being used for personal purposes. The information gathered did not include the contents of calls and emails, according to the government. Copland later disputed this claim, arguing that there indeed had been more invasive monitoring. Regardless of the extent of the monitoring, Copland did not receive notice that such monitoring could occur. At the time of the disputed monitoring, there was no legislation regulating monitoring of phones, Internet, and email. Subsequent to these events between Copland and the university, however, the government passed such legislation. Copland brought a claim, arguing that the government had violated Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Under Article 8, individuals generally had a right to respect for their private life unless governmental action was (among other things) in accordance with law. The government argued that there was no interference with Copland’s private life and that even if there were such an interference, the university’s actions were in accordance with law because the university had statutory authority under domestic law to carry out its function of providing education. According to the government, these actions were consistent with its statutory mission.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning ()

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