Supreme Court Takes Text Message Privacy Case
Police Sgt. Jeff Quon's case goes before high court
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 14, 2009 10:39 AM CST
The steps of the U.S. Supreme Court building are shown in this 2000 file photo in Washington.   (AP Photo/Pat Benic, FILE)

(Newser) – The US Supreme Court will take a case that could decide how much privacy workers have when they send text messages from company accounts, the justices said today. They will review a federal appeals court ruling that sided with California police officers who complained that their department improperly snooped on their electronic exchanges. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco sided with the workers, saying they "have a reasonable expectation of privacy."

The lawsuit was originally filed by Ontario police Sgt. Jeff Quon and three others after Arch Wireless gave their department transcripts of Quon's text messages in 2002. Police officials read the messages to determine whether department-issued pagers were being used solely for work purposes. The city said it discovered that Quon sent and received hundreds of personal messages, including many that were sexually explicit; he said the force had an informal policy of not monitoring the usage as long as employees paid for messages sent in excess of monthly limits.