By Hugh G. Willett,
November 13, 2009
There is an expectation of privacy for files stored on a laptop computer
but not for files stored on a central office server, a federal
magistrate judge ruled Thursday in a case of alleged corporate
U.S. Magistrate Judge C. Clifford Shirley Jr. found that e-mail messages
of defendant Clark Alan Roberts were stored under an expectation of
privacy in a case where employees of WYCO Inc. of Greenback are accused
of conspiring to steal trade secrets.
Roberts and co-defendant Sean Edward Howley have been charged in a
federal indictment of gaining access to the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.
plant in Topeka, Kan., in May 2007 to steal trade secrets.
Attorneys for both defendants squared off with federal prosecutors
Thursday in U.S. District Court in Knoxville over issues related to the
admissibility of evidence in the case based on the seldom-prosecuted
Economic Espionage Act of 1996.
Shirley likened the example of files stored on a laptop versus an office
server to the difference between documents stored in a personal filing
cabinet versus those stored in a central office filing cabinet.
Federal prosecutor Gregory Weddle argued that all documents created by
an employee at work, whether stored on a laptop or server, were the
property of the employer and not subject to any expectation of privacy.
The files were not his personal property, Weddle said.
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