• Online Privacy in the Workplace – Things to Consider

    Read time (bolded): 1 minutes
    Read time (comprehensive): 5-10 minutes

    It’s easy to think of it as your own – the computer you sit down in front of each morning, the one surrounded by your personal knick-knacks and photographs. The data inside, your browser history and the e-mails you send – these are your personal, private property, correct? Apparently not. A recent court decision, upheld in the California court of appeals, allowed an employee’s private e-mails to her attorney to be used against her in court  by her employer.

    So much for client-attorney confidentiality. The court wrote:

    “… [T]he e-mails sent via company computer under the circumstances of this case were akin to consulting her lawyer in her employer’s conference room, in a loud voice, with the door open, so that any reasonable person would expect that their discussion of her complaints about her employer would be overheard,”

    The court’s justification? That it is expressly outlined in Petrovich’s company handbook that e-mails sent from company accounts, on company computers, are in fact NOT private. Company policy is company policy, after all.

    For those of you who recognize that the concept of electronic privacy is rapidly eroding, here are some tips to protect yourself:

    • Your work computer is NOT private.
    • Nor is your company cell phone or pager.
    • Use a secure gmail account to send private emails from work.
    • Privacy is a luxury in the modern world. Act accordingly.

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