Fuel retailer Olerex has had to cease monitoring its filling stations via security footage which contains audio, following a Data Protection Inspectorate (AKI) precept.
The AKI says that, while the recording of conversations between employees and customers is is used in many companies, it is in fact prohibited.
AKI spokesperson Maire Iro, told ERR that: "The use of audio surveillance in the workplace, for example to check the work responsibilities of employees, is forbidden."
"It violates the rights of both employees and customers, and is not in line with the law. These companies need to review their data processing processes and stop recording audio," Iro went on.
"Being able to monitor employees' conversations throughout their working hours is very disruptive. With audio recording, employees are not free to conduct either business or private conversations without being recorded by their employer. This can cause stress, anxiety and other mental problems for employees. When audio recording is used at checkouts or at service points, it also affects conversations between customers. In addition, it can lead to other problems for the person, such as harassment at work, discrimination," Iro said.
Piret Miller, CEO of Olerex said that the recording had previously been standard practice, for security purposes, and nothing had happened without the knowledge of customers or employees – on account of clear signage noting the presence of the audio recording devices.
Audio can also help in resolving customer complaints or disputes, e added, noting that while they immediately stopped recording audio at its outlets following the AKI's decision, the latter had not been notified, and continued with the pursuit of a precept.
The precepts requirements had to be complied with by Friday December 17, and the AKI now says it has to verify Olerex has ceased recording audio.
Business daily Äripäev reported Monday (link in Estonian) that Olerex had, according to the AKI, been using film and audio in monitoring employee performance – a claim which Miller rejected.
The AKI precept, issued mid-November, required the removal of the audio surveillance equipment, the informing of staff over the violation, and ensuring that audio-less video surveillance complied with the General Data Protection Regulation (GPA).
Olerex faced a €25,000 fine if it failed to comply with the precept by the deadline.
Editor: Andrew Whyte