The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently provided a reminder that, for purposes of the Fourth Amendment, an employee of a private company that has an announced policy of monitoring employees’ use of computers, including their accessing the Internet, has no reasonable expectation of privacy in the contents of his or her company-supplied computer. U.S. v. Ziegler, No. 05-30177 (9th Cir. Aug. 8, 2006).
In the absence of a reasonable expectation of privacy, no Fourth Amendment claim can succeed. Smith v. Maryland, 442 U.S. 735, 745-46 (1979). The decision applies to employees in the private sector a body of law developed principally as to governmental employees.
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