Monday, June 28, 2010

Finally a ruling on City of Ontario, Ca. v. Quon

At long last the Supreme Court has ruled on City of Ontario, Ca. v. Quon. I say at long last because I have heard so many things about the case that it’s nice to hear the real facts and clear up any confusion about the law. This is the case involving a police SWAT guy who was given a paging device by the police department and then had his messages reviewed after he exceeded allotted departmental usage. Quon, the SWAT guy, cared because he had used the text capability provided for “BUSINESS PURPOSES” for mostly personal messages and had sent some sexually explicit and salacious texts as well. Anyway, the Supreme Court handled the case rather well. While not really addressing whether or not QUON had an expectation of privacy, they concluded that the search of the stored messages was not unreasonable, blah, blah, blah.

Well, the case stands for the same beliefs Kahn Consulting had been guided with in all our policy work over the years for clients. Make sure you have policies and that they clearly communicate the “rules of the road”. Make clear employees do not have an expectation to privacy and that the rules apply to all technologies of telecommunications systems provided by the employer.

There was special issue in the case that needs special attention. The texts were stored on the provider’s computers not the Police department’s servers. This issue needs special attention. Given the complexities and law on this issue, I am not going to give simple rules here that may confuse you. Suffice to say, as you contemplate storing content on “THE CLOUD” think about how accessing the business content when it is not on your server may have legal implications. If you need help, give us a call.

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