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Supreme Court Says Gov't Employee Texts Not Private 263

Posted by timothy
from the where-to-draw-the-line dept.
e9th writes "The Supreme Court, in a 9-0 ruling, has decided that government employers are entitled to examine all text messages sent with government-provided devices, even if the employee has agreed to pay for any excess message charges out of his own pocket. While the ruling only applies to government employees (at all levels), it may give private sector employees something to think about when using employer-provided devices."
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Supreme Court Says Gov't Employee Texts Not Private

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  • I wonder... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by avatar4d (192234) <avatar4d@gma i l . c om> on Thursday June 17, 2010 @02:22PM (#32604908)
    Would this also lead to your own personal device that an employer pays a portion of the bill to also give them rights to view your records? I bought my device and have an account in my name, but my employer reimburses a portion of the bill to me since I am on call every other week and get pages sent via SMS to the device.
  • Re:And? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Shakrai (717556) * on Thursday June 17, 2010 @02:24PM (#32604938) Journal

    I'm more worried about the fact that the wireless company kept a transcript of the text messages than I am about the fact that some municipal government kept a copy of them. What legitimate purpose is served by a wireless provider retaining copies of text messages that have been successfully delivered to the end user?

  • by Caerdwyn (829058) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @03:56PM (#32606046) Journal

    The bottom line is this: as long as an EMPLOYER can be sued for the conduct of an EMPLOYEE in relation to a job (and use of employer-provided equipment counts), the employer for its own protection must have the right to take steps to mitigate that risk.

    There is also a strange idea that an employee has a right to use employer-provided equipment and services for personal use. That's a myth. If the employer is kind enough to allow you to use company equipment and services for personal use (such as me posting this from work), that's a courtesy and a kindness, not a right, and if there are self-defense strings attached like monitoring, that's the employer's prerogative. Don't like it? Don't use it. I could be doing this from my smartphone or from home.

    Employers wouldn't do this if they didn't have to. Monitoring costs time and money. Monitoring happens in response to abuses by employees which have proven to be very costly to the employer. You can lay the blame for this at the feet of employees who have gotten their employers dragged into court and fined millions, resulting in the employer having to fire the innocent as well as the guilty to make up for the cost of the lawsuit. Or, in extreme cases, go out of business altogether... all because Charlie Assgrab surfed porn and Suzy StickUpHerAss saw it and told the law firm of Wi, Fukkem & Howe.

    The solution? Get rid of these terrible tort laws that allow employers to be sued for actions of an employee that were clearly not ordered by the employer. Someone grabbed your ass? Get your million from the grabber, not the nearest target that actually happens to have a million.

    Until the greed goes away, until individuals are held responsible for individual actions, employers will take draconian measures to protect themselves from a draconian threat. Put down the lawyer and we'll turn off the packet logger.

  • Re:Simple. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sancho (17056) * on Thursday June 17, 2010 @04:06PM (#32606134) Homepage

    You can have it both ways. It's called a stipend--your employer adds a little bit to your paycheck each month, and you use it to get a phone. Then they have the right to call/page you on it.

  • Re:Simple. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mathfeel (937008) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @04:33PM (#32606402)

    It's a necessity if you regularly have unprotected textual intercourse.

    That's why I bought silicon skin for all my phones.

  • by Radical Moderate (563286) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @06:04PM (#32607396)
    There's a limited amount of real estate on my body. Requiring me to carry a device when I'm not on the clock and claiming the right to review everything I do with it seems too intrusive. Sure, I can carry two phones, but why should I have to?

    Now if you can provide me a device with two lines, one private and one for work, you can go ahead and knock yourself out spying on my work line. I work for a state government and pay for my own phone because it's not worth dealing with the crap that comes attached to a work phone.

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