While Mr Justice Morris Fish stated that “Canadians may therefore reasonably expect privacy in the information contained on these computers, at least where personal use is permitted or reasonably
expected," the Court ruled that in some cases the seriousness of the offence can overule the right to privacy. The case in question was a high school teacher who had nude photographs of underage students on his work computer. I think most of us would agree that this is the sort of thing that SHOULD overide any privacy rights of the above mentioned teacher, and I certainly hope that the majority of employers are not dealing with that level of egregious behaviour. However, this raises an interesting dilemna for employers, who may have been under the long standing impression that what was on the computers and networks that the employer was paying for and providing was not private.
I bring your attention to another point that was brought up in this ruling. In some cases, workplace computer policies may be sufficient to override the employee's right to privacy. It is time to bring out those circa 2005 computer usage policies, blow the dust off of them and see how they will be impacted by this ruling. Can workplace policies eliminate the expectation of privacy? And do we want them to?