No eMail Privacy at Harvard

11 March 2013 Internet, IT & e-Discovery Blog Blog
Authors: Peter Vogel

Following the cheating scandal at Harvard which forced 70 students to leave, apparently Harvard administrators secretly search the email accounts of resident deans to determine who leaked the cheating scandal.  The New York Times reported:

Several Harvard faculty members speculated that the administration had felt free to search the e-mail accounts because it regarded the resident deans as regular employees, not faculty members; Harvard’s policies on electronic privacy give more protection to faculty members.

The New York Times report included these comments from Law Professor  Charles Ogletree:

I was shocked and dismayed,…I hope that it means the faculty will now have something to say about the fact that these things like this can happen.   

In Quon v City  of Ontario the US Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that if the employee uses a company issued device they  should not expect any privacy under the Constitution. Also an employee should not expect privacy if they use their employer’s email system in the US, so why should Harvard employees expect privacy with their email?

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