No Expectation of Privacy in Workplace Computers – State v. M.A.
In last Friday’s Appellate Division decision in State v. M.A., the Court ruled that society is not prepared to recognize a subjective expectation of privacy in workplace computers that are owned by the employer. In the M.A. case, the defendant kept confidential information on a workplace computer owned by his employer. When the employer suspected that the defendant had embezzled a large sum of money, he notified the police and gave them consent to search workplace computers. The Court’s ruling in this case brings New Jersey into line with a number federal courts of appeal that have reached the identical conclusion.
Beyond this ruling, the Court also held that since the defendant made no claim to recover the computer he used or the data it contained, he had abandoned the property and thus, once again, had no legitimate expectation of privacy in the computer or the data.
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