Employee Privacy In The Digital Age

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Do you have rights when it comes to company email accounts? (Alex Kingsbury/WBUR)
Do you have rights when it comes to company email accounts? (Alex Kingsbury/WBUR)

Harvard University's decision to search employee emails for the source of a leak to the media in last year's cheating scandal has created controversy across the campus and beyond. It's gotten us thinking - what rights do employers actually have to search employee email accounts and mobile devices? What protection do employees have?


Carol Rose, executive director for the ACLU of Massachusetts

Lewis Maltby, president of the National Workrights Institute.


Harvard Crimson "The covert search of email accounts was part of a broader investigation to identify who was responsible for leaking an internal email sent between administrators about the Government 1310 cheating case. The search was authorized by Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith and the University’s General Counsel, with the support of Dean of the College Evelynn M. Hammonds."

Slate " Court cases dealing with employer searches of employees’ electronic communication tend to ask two questions. The first is: Did the employee have a reasonable expectation of privacy? Usually the answer is no. Many employers require employees to sign contracts consenting to policies that explicitly state that the employer may monitor email accounts and online activities."

This segment aired on March 12, 2013.


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