Drawing Lines In The Virtual Sand: A Consideration Of R. V. Cole And Tips You Can Use For Developing Effective Computer Use Policies In The Workplace

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Although a criminal case, the Ontario Court of Appeal’s recent decision in R. v. Cole, 2011 ONCA 218 [Cole] has significant implications for employers with respect to establishing expectations of privacy in the workplace in relation to employee computer use.

Traditionally, the law in this area was fairly straightforward and firmly rooted in the overarching principle that workplace computers were employer property, and, as such, any information stored on them was also employer property. Accordingly, the employee did not have any expectation of privacy in this data, and employers could monitor an employee’s use of computers in order to ensure they were being used for work-related purposes.

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