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8 Seton Hall Const. L.J. 861 (1997-1998)
Electronic Communications in the Workplace: E-Mail Monitoring and the Right of Privacy

handle is hein.journals/shclj8 and id is 869 raw text is: COMMENTS

Kevin P. Kopp
Recent inventions and business methods call attention to the next step
which must be taken for the protection of the person, and for securing to
the individual ... the right to be let alone. ,
The foregoing excerpt, uttered more than a century ago, accurately depicts
the state of the law of privacy in today's computer age. The thesis is timeless
and rests on the fundamental notion that as society progresses and evolves, so
too must the law. The impetus behind the above proclamation was the advent
of new technologies such as instantaneous photographs and recording devices
which were being used with increasing frequency by the mass media.2 It is
axiomatic that today's computer technology presents an even greater threat to
Computer technology has revolutionized modern communications with the
advent of electronic communications, specifically e-mail.' The impact of e-
'Samuel D. Warren and Louis D. Brandeis, The Right to Privacy, 4 HARV. L. REV.
193, 195 (1890). Commentators have credited the Warren and Brandeis article as the legal
birth of the modern right of privacy. See Kevin J. Baum, Comment, E-mail in the Work-
place and the Right of Privacy, 42 VILL. L. REV. 1011, 1042 n. 1 (1997). The article has
been hailed as having had as much impact on the development of law as any single publi-
cation in legal periodicals. Id. (citing RICHARD C. TURKINGTON ETAL., PRIVACY: CASES
AND MATERIALS 31 (1992)).
2See Warren and Brandeis, supra note 1, at 195; see also Baum, supra note 1, at 1042
3The term e-mail is short for electronic mail. In discussions leading to the enact-
ment of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, the Senate Report described e-
mail as a technology that enables two parties to communicate through the transmission of a
digital message over public or private telephone lines. See S. Rep. No. 99-541, 99th Cong.,
2d Sess. (1986), reprinted in 1986 U.S.C.C.A.N. 3555. The e-mail message is held in a


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