Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Texty Cop

In City of Ontario, California, et al., Petitioners v. Jeff Quon, et al the Supreme Court is taking up the tricky questions of privacy involved in employers who snoop on the personal electronic communications of their employees. The appeal of a SWAT officer, his wife, his girlfriend, and his friend complains of privacy violations, because prolifically produced and sometimes sexually explicit text messages to and from Officer Jeff Quon were examined and found inappropriate by his bosses. The Ninth Circuit is known for its free speech liberalism when it comes to computer-mediated communication, and their decision that both upholds and reverses the disciplinary action of Quon's employers will give the high court more than it may know what to do with, given Chief Justice Roberts apparent befuddlement with high-tech electronic devices. For more information about the case, you can check out coverage on Scotus Blog and The Volokh Conspiracy.

Because Quon is a public employee, any precedent set by the case may be limited, but a recent study on Teens and Mobile Phones by Amanda Lenhart indicates that more texters will soon be entering the workforce.

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