U.S. Supreme Court to Determine City Employee's Right to Privacy in Text Messages Sent on City Equipment
For public employers, City of Ontario v. Quon raises issues regarding a public employee's right to privacy in electronic communications sent on a city's equipment . The Supreme Court's decision to hear the case follows the Ninth Circuit's ruling that a c ity's review of text messages sent and received by an employee on his city-issued pager violated the employee's Fourth Amendment right to privacy .
City of Ontario police sergeant Jeff Quon used his city-issued pager to send and receive hundreds of personal text messages . He incurred overage charges on the city's wireless plan that prompted the city to audit his text messages to determine if they were related to city business . Quon argued before the Ninth Circuit that his department's informal practice of allow ing officers to exceed their character limits if they paid overage charges nullified the city's written policy that employees had no expectation of privacy in communications sent on city-issued equipment .
The City of Ontario subsequently appealed the case to the Supreme Court, and the League of California Cities (LOCC) issued a brief in support of the appeal, as described on the LOCC Web site.
It is anticipated that the Supreme Court will issue its ruling by the end of June.ShareThis