An email to a spouse, or a text message to a friend. Many employees use their work-issued Blackberry or cell phone for personal reasons every day. But should those messages stay private? That's something the Supreme Court is deciding right now!
This decision could affect employee privacy everywhere, but it all stems from a case out of California. A police department decided to audit text messages on work devices, and what they found- shocked them.
One particular police sergeant was sending personal messages over his work-issued pager to his estranged wife, his girlfriend, and another officer on the force. During an one-month audit, they found Sergeant Jeff Quon had received 456 personal messages while on duty. Only three were deemed work-related.
Attorneys for the city say Sergeant Quon should have never assumed those messages would remain private. But Quon's attorney says the city had no right to read them, and that he assumed he had a "reasonable expectation" of privacy.
Now there are two issues: How far a government employer may go to monitor communications of it's workers, and also, whether service providers like AT&T or Verizon can be held liable for providing those communications without the consent of the sender.