Supreme Court to Decide Privacy of Texting

Thursday, December 17, 2009 No Comments

Supreme Court to Decide Privacy of Texting

This spring, the US Supreme court will hear a very interesting case involving a fired government worker (police officer), personal sexually-oriented text messages, and a government-owned/employee-issued cell phone. This outcome of this case is going to affect employers.

Supreme Court will decide whether employees' text messages are private
By Robert Barnes, Washington Post Staff Writer

A recent survey is the latest reminder that companies are struggling to balance the benefits and risks of letting workers roam online realms such as Facebook and Twitter. Half of companies have not set out a specific policy for workers’ online social networking activities, according to the report from two professional groups, the Health Care Compliance Association and the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics.

The case the court accepted Monday involves public employees, but a broadly written decision could hold a blueprint for private-workplace rules in a world in which communication via computers, e-mail and text messages plays a very large role.

A federal appeals court in California decided that a police officer in the city of Ontario had a right to privacy regarding the texts he sent on his department-issued pager, even though his chief discovered that some of them were sexually explicit messages to his girlfriend. That court said the chief's decision to read the messages without a suspicion of wrongdoing on the part of the officer violated Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches. Read more ›

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