October 24, 2012
Companies who have relied on consent to justify their scrutiny of employees' work computers had better read the Supreme Court of Canada's recent decision in R. v. Cole.
Even in the face of best practices and employer ownership of the computer, however, the court made it clear that employees do retain some reasonable expectation of privacy in personal data stored on an employer-supplied laptop.
"Perhaps the most important thing that arises from the decision is the court's skepticism that employers who allow any degree of personal use can totally displace privacy rights," says Patrick Flaherty. "To my mind, the decision suggests that employers who want to ensure complete freedom to monitor ought to ban personal use and consistently enforce the ban."
Arguably, however, a complete ban may not be realistic, especially in workplace settings where employers expect employees to be available around the clock and give them the hardware and tools to do so. This having been said, Cole does not prohibit employers from doing their best to circumscribe expectations of privacy.
Read the article here.