U.S. SUPREME COURT RULES THAT CITY MAY SEARCH EMPLOYEE TEXT MESSAGES UNDER SOME CIRCUMSTANCES

The United States Supreme Court recently held that a police department was allowed to search an officer’s personal text messages that were sent on his city-issued pager. City of Ontario, California v. Quon, No. 08-1332 (June 17, 2010). The search arose because the police officer was exceeding his text character limit on the city pager and had been paying the overages himself. The city wanted to determine, by reviewing the content of the text messages, whether the city or the officer should be paying for the text messages. While reviewing the transcripts of the text messages, the city determined that the officer was sending many personal text messages during work hours, and the city disciplined the officer.

The question in front of the Court was whether the text message search violated the constitutional prohibition against unreasonable search and seizures. The Court held that the city’s search of the officer’s text messages was reasonable because the search was motivated by a legitimate work-related purpose of determining who should be paying for the text messages, and the search was not excessive in scope.
To view the opinion, please CLICK HERE.

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