Your Boss Can't Read Your Email, Courts Say

Judges start to sympathize with employees in privacy disputes
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 19, 2009 11:42 AM CST
Your Boss Can't Read Your Email, Courts Say
Courts are starting to side with employees in e-mail privacy disputes.   (Shutterstock)

No matter what your employers tell you, they probably can’t spy on your emails without telling you, recent court rulings suggest. While in the past courts have often sided with corporations on issues of email privacy, lately they’ve been more sympathetic to employees, the Wall Street Journal reports. Earlier this year, for example, a New Jersey appeals court ruled that employers can’t pry into private email accounts, even if they’re accessed on a work computer.

“Computers are becoming recognized as being so much a part of the ongoing personal as well as professional life of employees,” said one First Amendment attorney. But corporate lawyers argue that every keystroke on a company computer is company property. “Employers are right to expect their employees when they are paid for their time at work are actually working,” said one lawyer. Employees won’t want to hear that; in a recent poll, 52% admitted to checking private email accounts at work. (More privacy stories.)

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