Supreme Court to Examine Digital Privacy of Employees

Next week the U.S. Supreme Court takes up an important privacy issue regarding digital communications: whether an employee's personal messages are private when transmitted over an electronic device supplied by an employer.  The Court has granted certiorari in City of Ontario v. Quon, which deals with the degree of privacy that an employee maintains in personal message sent digitally via a device provided by his or her employer.

Here are the background documents for the case:

This particular case deals with the privacy interests of public employees (police officers) and their personal use of text messaging on employer-provided phones.  It also has a few factual quirks (namely a conflict between the Department's written policies and statements made by supervisory personnel regarding whether officers' texts would be considered private) that could limit the case's widespread applicability.  However the Court is likely to outline some general principals regarding digital privacy in the employment setting that will be looked to by both public and private employers and employees in the future.

As usual, Nina Totenberg at NPR has an excellent summary of the case and its potential ramifications.  You can read and listen to her report here.


The case has some particular quirks that in some ways limi