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Trustworthy Information Systems Handbook: Appendix E, IV.

Privacy of E-Mail

An employee has no reasonable expectation of privacy in e-mail communications voluntarily made over the company e-mail system to another company employee, notwithstanding assurances that such communications would not be intercepted by management. For example, in Smythe v. The Pillsbury Company (914 FSupp 97, 1996), the court held that Smythe could be fired for communications made to his supervisor which were forwarded to Pillsbury management. The court found that such a firing does not violate Pennsylvania public policy, and that monitoring and interception of the contents of e-mail communications made over the company e-mail system by an employer does not invade an employee's privacy interests.

See also Bourke v. Nissan Motor Corp., No. B068705 (CA Ct App, July 26, 1993), which stated that employees had no reasonable expectation of privacy in their work place e-mail when (a) they were aware for some time prior to being terminated that their e-mail was read by the company; and (b) they signed a statement agreeing to restrict their use of company-owned hardware and software to company business.

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Appendix E

TIS Handbook last updated July 2002, Version 4.