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Personal data on business systems: The high cost of curiosity

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in Centerpiece,Employment Law,Human Resources

by Niloy Ray, Esq., Littler Mendelson, Minneapolis

magnifying glass and emailIt’s hardly shocking that many employees use work technology for personal matters—whether that’s online shopping, catching up on social media or sending email to friends and family. Apart from the familiar issue of impermissible use by employees, this intermingling of personal and business computing creates less-obvious traps for employers.

As a recent New York case illustrates, ready access to personal information can lead a well-meaning but unwary employee into legal liability, even if the information accessed is properly discoverable in litigation.

An accidental discovery

In April 2008, an employee of Pure Power Boot Camp, a fitness center, decided to set up a personal Hotmail account using a work computer. On the Hotmail home page, she noticed something unusual—the user-name and password of a former employee. Apparently, the former employee had checked his personal email...(register to read more)

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