In Quon v. Arch Wireless Operating Co., a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that a public employer violated the Fourth Amendment by searching the contents of text messages sent and received on a public employee's work-issued pager. In so holding, the Ninth Circuit found that the public employee had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the contents of the text messages, despite a formal Internet and computer policy stating otherwise. Relying on the two-part O'Connor test for public-employer searches, the court found that the search was more intrusive than necessary to determine whether the messages were work-related or personal. The Ninth Circuit also held that a wireless text-messaging provider violated the Stored Communications Act ("SCA") when it released the contents of archived text messages without the consent of the addressee or recipient.
The Extension of Privacy Rights to Workplace Text Messages Under Quon v. Arch Wireless, 39 Golden Gate U. L. Rev.