European Court of Human Rights
25 September 2001

Facts

The police suspected that the applicants together with their accomplice were to commit a robbery. A listening device was installed in the apartment of the accomplice and the police examined the billing of calls from the telephone in the flat. The applicants were subsequently arrested. Covert listening devices in the applicants’ cells and listening devices attached to the police officers were used to record the voice samples of the applicants. An expert concluded that it was feasible that the applicants were the ones whose voices were recorded in the accomplice’s flat, and, consequently, the applicants later were convicted of a conspiracy of robbery.

Complaint

The applicants complained that monitoring and recording their voices in the accomplice’s flat and in the police station violated their right to private life.

Court's ruling

The Court ruled that the monitoring and recording of applicants’ voices was not in accordance with the law and violated the right to private life of the applicants.

The Court found that:

  • A permanent record had been made of the applicants’ voices and it was subject to a process of analysis in order to identify them. Thus the recording and analysis of the applicants’ voices concerns the processing of personal data.
  • It was done without the knowledge or consent of the individuals concerned.
  • At the relevant time, there existed no statutory system to regulate the use of covert listening devices by the police in private places and on the police’s own premises.

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