The Integrity News
Vol. XII No. 21
July 12, 2003
July 7, 2003 ( pg. 26 )
An ex-employee sent messages to over
35,000 employees of his former employer
criticizing the employer's employment
Last week, the California Supreme Court
ruled that this did not constitute trespassing
on the employer's computers.
Below are some of the key points from the article:
"This is not good news for companies trying to keep all kinds
of unsolicited messages off their networks. Worse, the
decision could make it more difficult to fight in court against
"The court ruled that the company could not claim a property
right to an employee's time, and that opinion could prove to be
the most wide-reaching."
"The decision could make it tougher to win civil lawsuits
against hackers whose intrusions aren't serious enough for
criminal investigators to pursue. The bar has definitely
"Other states are likely to follow California's ruling, and the
effect will be to limit companies' control of their networks."
A former head of the Justice Department's computer crimes
unit comments that clearly this court case says that a company
cannot "sue over everything that they don't like happening
to their systems."
"The court rejected the company's contention that the ex-
employee's mailings constituted spam, similar to any
unsolicited, commercial mass emailing."
"The most damaging part of the 29-page decision could be the
conclusion that there wasn't economic harm to the company
from current employees reading the ex-employee's messages."
The company maintained that the court disregarded any
constitutional arguments. The company said: "It was not
a case about the ex-employee's right to free speech.
When you use the company system, you don't have those
Don't assume that this ruling will not be appealed. The
company did not buy the court's ruling that "the messages
didn't damage the company's computers and email systems
'any more than the personal distress caused by reading an
unpleasant letter would be an injury to the recipient's
mailbox'." The email system can be clogged, and the
personal mailbox analogy doesn't take into account that
each employee is selling their time and abilities to the
The trip into the Information Age is full of twists and turns.