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(Warning: Boring legal bit of news!)

A limited precedent has been set by the European court of human rights which just found in favour of the complainant in a case against the UK government regarding the unlawful monitoring of private communications at work.  (Covered by numerous news outlets)

Effectively this overrides UK law and any contracts implicitly in respect to human rights cases - statute law automatically trumps contract law; and means that employers and the government will have to respect article 8 of the human rights act.

What does that mean?  The specifics are available on the this UK government site - just scroll down to article 8.

It will be interesting to see if this precendent is able to be called upon in UK courts themselves, where there is a law that permits employers to monitor employees communications for the purposes of detecting things like viruses and seeing how employees interact with customers however that law itself could breach the data protection act in several situations.

With such a contradictory situation a precedent is actually needed to decide how to interpret the 'grey area' - and this could well be the one used in that situation.