E-Commerce Times Talkback
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The U.S. Supreme Court has decided to hear a case that centers on text-messaging privacy policies for employees in the workplace. The Court could reinforce employees' rights, prompting employers to issue ever more stringent policies on workplace communications, including stepped-up monitoring in order to maintain their right to view such messages. The case, City of Ontario v. Quon, revolves around the question of whether the Ontario, Calif., police force had the right to read text messages sent by its employees.
The unique facts of the Ontario case distinguish it from anything going on with companies' "digital" policies. Basically, the police officer's boss was charging department members when their texting exceeded what the police department gave its officers. Just how many companies will have a comparable fact pattern?
I disagree with my colleagues on the "Use It or Lose It" argument that they claim arises from this case. It wasn't that the city didn't use the policy; it was that the city permitted a police officer private gain, contrary to the policy. Users of services purchased in private transactions typically have not only a greater expectation of privacy but an actual right to it.
This opinion (once it is issued next year) should NOT change policies or their implementation but it SHOULD put companies on notice that they SHOULD implement digital policies.
James C. Roberts III