Be careful what you look at. An Ohio federal judge declined to dismiss a lawsuit brought by a former Verizon employee seeking money damages because her company-issued blackberry was used to look at personal emails after she left the company. As described by the judge's opinion, Verizon issued the employee a Blackberry. Under Verizon's policy, the employee could use the Blackberry to receive personal email. When the employee left the company, she did not delete her personal email account before returning the Blackberry. In the 18 months after the plaintiff left Verizon, her former supervisor read, without her knowledge or authorization, 48,000 e-mails sent to her personal g-mail account. The judge refused to throw out the case, ruling that the supervisor's actions could be a violation of the Stored Communications Act.
There are several lessons to be learned from this case. First, enact a strong computer use policy that gives the company broad rights over company-issued devices. Second, get rid of data you don't need as soon as possible. Third, train managers that accessing an employee's personal data without a work-related justification is a bad idea.