Employee privacy

Sgt. Jeff Quon of the Ontario, California police force had a habit of using his city-issued Blackberry to send and receive tons of text messages each day, and when the city looked into the matter, they found out all sorts of unsavory things about him. He’s now suing the city for invasion of privacy, and suing the wireless company for revealing the details.

And I call bullshit.

Sure, it sucks that he got caught texting his wife, and his girlfriend, and a fellow officer. It sucks even more than the content of those messages did not meet the criteria of “light personal communications” that the city’s policy allows, but were instead what a judge referred to as, “to say the least, sexually explicit in nature.”

But look, this is his EMPLOYER’S ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT we’re talking about. Yes, Sgt. Quon paid the overage charges each month out of his own pocket, but that’s what started this to begin with — the city got tired of playing “bill collector” and having to get money from certain overusers each month, and investigated to see if they needed to increase the service plans instead. What they uncovered was a ridiculous misuse of their city-issued equipment and taxpayer dollars.

In one month in particular, Sgt. Quon exchanged 456 personal messages while on duty (that’s 28 per shift on average) and only three were work-related. THREE. Less than a quarter of one percent. The fact that that he was “sexting” with his wife, his girlfriend, and a fellow officer WHILE ON DUTY just makes it worse.

And I believe that he’s a flaming idiot if he feels he’s being treated unfairly here.

Yes, courts have often ruled in favor of employees where electronic privacy is concerned. Yes, it’s theoretically possible he might have a legal leg to stand on with his suit against his employer. But morally and ethically, I think he’s full of shit.

The police department, who issued him this mobile device, has a stated Computer Usage, Internet and E-mail Policy that Sgt. Quon signed. The policy states clearly that “users should have no expectation of privacy or confidentiality when using these resources” and emphasizes that these devices and service plans are issued for use in the duties of employees’ job responsibilities.

The idea that he’s crying foul because he got busted is absurd. Only a complete moron sends things on his work computer or cellphone that he wouldn’t want his boss to see. Period.

And frankly, the fact that he did all this while a POLICE OFFICER on DUTY, sexting and working on his extramarital affairs instead of protecting and serving the public, should be a crime.

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