Who is reading your work emails?

A European court ruling has focused attention on the controversial issue of workplace email monitoring. (Reuters)
Updated 06 October 2017
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Who is reading your work emails?

LONDON: A new European legal ruling on workplace email monitoring could impact multinationals with operations across the Gulf.
It follows a decision by the European Court of Human Rights last month that employers must warn staff if they plan to monitor their emails.
Lawyers have urged regional companies to ensure they follow suit.
That European ruling is expected to set a precedent on how far a company could potentially snoop into their employees’ online activities.
The court’s decision was related to a case in Romania where a man was fired for using his work email to communicate with his family.
“The key point for employers is that their ability to monitor employees’ activities on email and online must be carefully managed and prior consent obtained,” said Rebecca Ford, partner in the MENA employment team at Clyde and Co, based in Dubai.
The European ruling may pose questions for European multinationals in the region where workplace practices and norms can vary.
Samir Kantaria, partner, head of employment law, at Al Tamimi & Co. said that he advises companies when they are drawing up their HR manuals or employment contracts to ensure that the employee doesn’t “expect a right to privacy” when using work email on the company’s network.
“If there was any potential for an employee to make trouble for an employer, the practices we recommend our clients to take are there to try to protect them,” said Kantaria.
He is currently working on a case in which the employer is presenting work emails in a disciplinary procedure as evidence that the employee was not fulfilling the requirements of his job.
Monitoring of employee emails should be “reasonable” and “for a business purpose,” said Ford — news that might come as a relief to many employees who occasionally use their work account to quickly arrange a catch-up with friends, book a restaurant or pay a bill.
Ford added that the monitoring of employee online activities outside of the workplace or through their own personal devices could be considered “unlawful.”
While lawyers in the UAE and the rest of the Gulf can make recommendations to employers, there is as yet no specific data protection laws that apply at federal level across the UAE for example. Some other Gulf countries are in the process of developing their own laws.
In the UAE, the Penal Code and Cybercrimes law makes it a criminal offense to intercept personal and confidential material without consent. It is currently the only federal level legislation that could offer any protection against someone reading or intercepting your personal data, such as emails.
While there is move and a growing desire to set up a more specific federal level data protection law, there is nothing in the legislative pipeline yet, said Nick O’Connell, partner at the law firm Al Tamimi & Company.
“There is quite a bit of movement in the region. Qatar — about a year ago — they introduced a data protection law. I have also heard recently that Bahrain has a draft law on the horizon, and for the UAE I think it really is just a matter of time.
Data protection is much more on peoples’ radar than it used to be and at a legislative level it really is just a matter of time,” he said. “In order to be a credible economy I think these days you need to make sure you are in line with what other countries are doing in this space,” he said.
Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC) and the Abu Dhabi Global Markets (ADGM) already have their own data protection laws that govern the way personal data is processed.


Emirates NBD Q2 profit surges 30 pct as net interest income rises

Updated 17 min 3 sec ago
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Emirates NBD Q2 profit surges 30 pct as net interest income rises

  • Banks in the United Arab Emirates are expected to benefit this year as economic growth recovers and investment in infrastructure picks up
  • Emirates NBD expanded its international operations in May by agreeing to buy Turkey’s Denizbank from Russia’s state-owned Sberbank for $3.2 billion

DUBAI: Emirates NBD (ENBD), Dubai’s largest lender, posted a 30 percent rise in second-quarter net profit on Wednesday, boosted by a climb in net interest income and a drop in provisions to cover bad loans.

The bank made a net profit of 2.63 billion dirhams ($716.1 million) in the three months to June 30, it said in a statement, compared with 2.02 billion dirhams in the corresponding period of 2017.

That was ahead of two analysts’ forecasts. SICO Bahrain forecast the bank would make a net profit for the quarter of 2.31 billion dirhams, while EFG Hermes expected a profit of 2.14 billion dirhams.

Banks in the United Arab Emirates are expected to benefit this year as economic growth recovers and investment in infrastructure picks up ahead of Dubai’s hosting of the World Expo in 2020.

Emirates NBD, 55.6-percent owned by state fund Investment Corp, was boosted by a 20 percent rise in net interest income to 3.25 billion dirhams compared with the same period a year earlier. — Reuters

That helped offset a 3 percent dip in non-interest income to 1.10 billion dirhams as income from investment securities dropped.

Reflecting improved economic conditions, provisions for bad loans eased by 49 percent to 315 million dirhams.

With existing overseas operations in several countries including Egypt, India, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Britain, Indonesia and China, Emirates NBD expanded its international operations in May by agreeing to buy Turkey’s Denizbank from Russia’s state-owned Sberbank for $3.2 billion.

The bank said a 21 percent increase in costs during the quarter was due to higher staff and IT costs related to its digital and technology transformation, as well as higher costs related to international branch expansion.

The bank’s loan and deposit portfolio increased marginally at the end of June. Loans rose by 4 percent to 316.4 billion dirhams, while deposits increased by 3 percent 335 billion dirhams.