The Supreme Court agreed last week to decide whether a police department in Ontario, Calif., violated the privacy rights of an employee when it inspected personal text messages of a police sergeant on a work-issued pager. While that case concerns public employees, a federal judge involved in the proceedings asked, “What are the legal boundaries of an employee’s privacy in this interconnected, electronic-communication age?”
Employers were unlikely to tap your office phone for personal calls, but what about monitoring electronic messages? With e-mail and texting necessary on the job, it becomes hard to avoid all personal communications on office computers. Various measures to protect workers’ privacy have been proposed in Congress, but have never been approved. Will privacy law in the workplace be reshaped by the proliferation of devices from computers to work-issued BlackBerries?
* Timothy B. Lee, Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy
* Jennifer Stisa Granick and Kurt Opsahl, Electronic Frontier Foundation
* Orin Kerr, George Washington Law School
* Kashmir Hill, blogger
* Jonathan Zittrain, Harvard Law Schoollroomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com