Recently in Computer Use Category

November 18, 2014

Is it against the law to remote wipe an employee's Candy Crush high score?

Replace Candy Crush high score with email contacts on a personal iPhone used for work (BYOD), and you have the issue that a federal court in Texas recently tackled.

The answer follows after the jump...

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May 13, 2014

My employee deleted all of her work emails and quit. Can I sue her for that?

Well, sure, you can.

But winning that case -- especially if you're thinking about a claim under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act -- may be another story.

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The CFAA is designed to prevent unauthorized access or malicious interference with a computer system. Often used as an employer-sword, to state a claim for a violation of the CFAA, a company must prove that an employee actually caused damage to its computer system or data. The CFAA defines "damage" as "any impairment to the integrity or availability of data, a program, a system, or information."

In Instant Technology, LLC v. DeFazio (opinion here), the former employee deleted all of her work emails from her inbox.

Well, damn, that sure sounds like an impairment to the availability of data.

Yeah, except, in this case, all those "deleted" emails remained in two places: (i) the former employee's email trash folder and (ii) on the company's email server. Therefore, because the company did not show that any data was lost or impaired, it could not demonstrate "damage" and, therefore, lost its CFAA claim.

But, had the former employee double-deleted her email -- like any good scoundrel -- and the company's email server been wiped, there could have been a CFAA violation.

To avoid these problems, as a best practice, be sure to remind your employees that any work emails are company property and should be held/deleted consistent with your company's computer use/email policy.

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November 20, 2012

Four lessons employers can learn from the Petraeus scandal

David H. Petraeus 2004Yeah, I know, this post would have been timely if posted last week, when the Petraeus news actually surfaced.

Well it is -- err, was --  timely. That is, my Dilworth Paxson colleague, Sehyung Lee, did post "Attennnnn-tion! 4 Important Lessons From the General Petraeus Scandal" over at the White Collar Defense Update Blog last week. I just didn't get around to reading it until last Friday and, by then, it was too late to link to it from this blog, and...

You get the point right? (I'm too lazy to offer you any original content today).

Sometimes Generally, you get what you pay for with this blog. Maybe if you sent me a few dollars now and again, I'd step up my game.

(Kidding. Compliments Twinkies Bearer bonds only.)

June 4, 2012

The golden rule on forwarding emails at work

I'm with the Stupid network"An employee who emails pictures of Trayvon Martin's head cropped onto the body of a dead police officer is a thought-leading change agent." 

-- Absolutely nobody in HR

No, he gets fired.

According to this story from Chris Biele at FOX40 News in California, an employee in the state's Employment Development Department forwarded that picture with the message, "Would it make people feel any different if this face was on a dead pig?" And of course, the picture made it onto Facebook.

Just terrible.

Here's my simple golden rule on forwarding emails at work:

"If you would feel at all uncomfortable about having to explain from the witness stand to a federal judge or jury why you forwarded that email, it's best not to hit send."

May 18, 2012

That's what they said: "Naked ambition" and a "voyeur boss"? (And more...)

theysaid.jpgAs evidenced by the nature of this blog post and the picture on the right, it's best not to leave me in the office alone, unsupervised, with an iPhone, and App Store credits, as I punch this out at 10:52 at night on a Thursday. (And yet, somehow, the Wall Street Journal deems me quotable).

Rest assured, everything I do, I do it for you. And, best of all, it's all employment-law related. Love my job!

(My wife has to be cool with me using our wedding song for this blog post, right? Love ya, baby! "Take me as I am....")

And that's what they said...

Now, you'll have to excuse me as I try to beat the locksmith to my house (kidding...)

February 24, 2012

Want to keep your job? Don't do this if you're bored at work...

Thumbnail image for englishwig.gifSome folks -- not you and me, but some folks -- can watch porn at work and not get in trouble; they work in the porn industry.

When you're an employee of the courts -- a courtroom clerk, to be precise -- it's frowned upon. 

Oh, you'll never guess what happens next. Well, maybe you can. See how right you are after the jump. Fair warning, however, this is one my less tasteful posts. And that's saying something...

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February 6, 2012

The so-called "privacy" of employee emails

passwordprotected.jpgHumblebrag alert.

Reporters call me all the time. It's a wonder that I can get any work done.

Why, just last week, I was speaking to a reporter about an action recently initiated by current and former employees of the FDA, alleging that the agency unlawfully monitored their private emails. During our discussion, I mentioned another case -- this one called Stengart v. Loving Care Agency -- in which the NJ Supreme Court held that an employee who emails her attorney from a company computer may have a reasonable expectation of privacy in those emails provided that the employee uses a password-protected web-based email account.

Ah, serendipity! The following day, I read about another case decided last week in which the NJ Superior Court reaffirmed that many employee emails are not private. More on this case and a best practice for employers after the jump...

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June 13, 2011

Does an employer's computer policy trump the marital privilege?

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Let's assume that your company -- as many do -- has a computer-use policy, which underscores that electronic communications sent over your network are not private and the company has the right to monitor all such electronic communications. 

Under federal law, communications between the spouses, privately made, are generally assumed to have been intended to be confidential, and hence they are privileged. What if a husband and wife who work for your company email each other over your network? Are these emails subject to the marital privilege, or does the computer-use policy eviscerate it?

Find out after the jump.

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