Computer Privacy for Church Staff
A recent Supreme Court case addresses employers' right to search electronic media.

The City of Ontario, California, purchased 20 pagers capable of sending and receiving text messages. The city issued the pagers to several police officers on its SWAT team to enable them to mobilize and respond to emergencies. A local wireless telecommunications company provided wireless service for the pagers. Under the city's contract with the wireless company each pager was allotted a limited number of characters sent or received each month. Usage in excess of that amount would result in an additional fee.

Key point. Many states recognize "invasion of privacy" as a basis for liability. Invasion of privacy may consist of any one or more the following: (1) public disclosure of private facts; (2) use of another person's name or likeness; (3) placing someone in a "false light" in the public eye; or (4) intruding upon another's seclusion.
Key point. Employees may have a limited right of privacy in their workspace that may extend to the contents of their desk and cabinet drawers, and employer-provided computers. This right of privacy can be superseded by a policy that clearly authorizes the employer to inspect these items.

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Posted: September 1, 2010
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