From Tuesday, new regulations give employers the power to eavesdrop on the email communications of their staff, a legal shift that has been welcomed by businesses but condemned as a breach of the right to privacy by civil liberty groups.
The new Lawful Business Practices Regulations -- part of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIP) Act -- allows bosses to read the private communications of staff without the consent of correspondents. Previously RIP required employers to gain consent before snooping on employees but firms complained that it was unworkable.
The rest of the RIP Act came into force on 2 October but the section relating to email snooping at work was delayed. The government claims it needed farther consultation, but civil liberties experts believe it was revised in order to avoid clashes with the Human Rights Act which was also published at the beginning of the month.
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