Supreme Court Decides to Hear Text Message Privacy Case


In a legal back-and-forth between the Ontario Police Department in California and Sergeant Jeff Quon, the overarching privacy issues concerning technology have come into full view (once again).

Sgt. Jeff Quon sued the Ontario Police Department after his texting transcripts were read by his lieutenant. While the messages were sent to/from a department-issued pager (yep, pager), Sgt. Quon claims his fourth amendment rights were violated by the department.

A three-judge panel at the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Sgt. Quon saying that the lieutenant had made an informal policy change to view transcripts on accounts who didn’t pay their overage fees. In viewing Sgt. Quon’s transcripts, he violated his own policy and thus violated Sgt. Quon’s constitutional rights.

To take a step further, the Ontario Police Department petitioned the Supreme Court requesting the case to be overturned on the precedent that the lieutenant had no authority to overturn the department policy that all privacy is relinquished when using department equipment, including pagers.

Most companies force employees to sign IT Privacy restriction documents waiving all rights on company owned equipment. Do you think your privacy is violated if an IT guy snoops around your employer-issued computer?

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