A Montana man who used his work computer to access child pornography does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy that would bar a search of the machine, a U.S. federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday.
Jeffrey Ziegler had argued that his Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures should prevent the government from using evidence that he had viewed many images of child pornography at work.
The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals based in San Francisco cited similar past cases and found that even if some people lament the lack of privacy at work, the law was against Ziegler.
"Social norms suggest that employees are not entitled to privacy in the use of workplace computers, which belong to their employers and pose significant dangers in terms of diminished productivity and even employer liability," Diarmuid O'Scannlain wrote for a three-judge panel.
"Employer monitoring is largely an assumed practice, and thus we think a disseminated computer-use policy is entirely sufficient to defeat any expectation that an employee might nonetheless harbour."
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