Are text messages your personal information, when sent from a company device? Is there any expectation of privacy? It is a decision that the Supreme Court must decide:

“The Supreme Court said today it would rule for the first time on whether employees have a right to privacy when they send text messages on electronic devices supplied by their employers.

The justices agreed to hear an appeal from the police department in Ontario, Calif., that was successfully sued by Sgt. Jeff Quon and three other officers after their text messages — some of which were sexually explicit — were read by the police chief.”

link: Court will rule on privacy of text messages sent on employer-owned devices

The implications of this decision are far reaching. The phone that sits on an employee’s desk is company property. Is the owner of that phone allowed unfettered access to all discussions on that phone? And that desktop and/or laptop computer may be company property too. This decision will impact upon the employees’ right to privacy.

Perhaps the court will remember Justice Louis Brandeis’ admonition: “The right to be left alone – the most comprehensive of rights, and the right most valued by civilized men“.

Catherine Forsythe