NWI Addresses Judicial Conference on Privacy
NWI president Lewis Maltby addressed 150 appellate court judges at the July 16 meeting of the Foundation for Judicial Excellence regarding employment privacy.
Judges have consistently held that employees have no right of privacy in company owned computers. Maltby pointed out that this rule, while perhaps fair for office computers, makes less sense when applied to laptop computers the employer encourages employees to take home with permission to use for personal matters.
A rule that “ownership trumps all” also denies employers access to information computers owned by the employee, even when there is reason to believe the employee is misusing company information.
Basing privacy law on ownership also denies employers access to messages transmitted by wireless devices, since the vast majority of the system is owned by the service provider.
Maltby urged judges to base privacy decisions on whether an employer has a legitimate interest in the message, not on whether it owns the hardware by which the message was transmitted.
This was the first time that the judges had been presented with this perspective and many found it persuasive.