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Disclosure of text messages under the Stored Communications Act

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Overview Edit

Subject to certain exceptions, the Stored Communications Act (SCA), which is part of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, bars

a person or entity providing an electronic communications service to the public from knowingly divulging to any person or entity the contents of a communication while in electronic storage by that service.

The SCA distinguishes between two types of providers: "remote computing services" and "electronic communication services."

Courts have been examining whether the disclosure of text messages sent by employees on employer-issued pagers violates the privacy rights of employees, and whether such disclosure is barred by the Stored Communications Act.[1] The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that the city-employer violated the constitutional rights of an employee when the employer reviewed text messages sent and received by the employee on his employer-provided pager. The court of appeals also held that the text-messaging service provider violated the federal Stored Communications Act by giving the city transcripts of the text messages. In Quon v. Arch Wireless,[2] the Ninth Circuit held that a city's text message provider was an electronic communications service for purposes of the Act because it enabled city employees to send and receive wire communications. The U.S. Supreme Court later reversed.[3]

References Edit

  1. 18 U.S.C. §2701 et seq.
  2. 529 F.3d 892 (9th Cir. 2008).
  3. City of Ontario, Cal. v. Quon, 560 U.S. 746 (2010).

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