The issue was brought up in a lawsuit in which Ontario, California
city police Sergeant Jeff Quon and three other officers sued the city and text
messaging service USA Mobility Wireless Inc. after wireless provider Arch
Wireless turned over to the police department transcripts of Quon’s text
messages to the other officers. Police officials said they read the messages to
determine whether department-issued pagers were being used solely for work
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that
employers that contract an outside business to transmit text messages cannot
read them unless the worker agrees (see Ruling Limits Employers’ Right to Monitor Electronic Communications), and that
employers can access employee emails only if they are kept on an internal
server. The city and USA Mobility appealed the ruling.
While the justices
turned down the appeal, they agreed to hear arguments in the case in the Spring
to decide on the privacy issue, according to the Associated Press.