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The FDA is being sued by several current and former employees for monitoring their private emails. Receiving and sending private emails on a work computer are things many employees may do.
Yet many may not realize -- or understand -- what level of privacy their actions are afforded.
The employees allege the government agency illegally monitored their correspondence. They also claim the FDA's actions had a negative effect on whistleblower activity.
The former FDA workers say that the agency only started monitoring activities after some voiced their concern to Congress. The employees ranged from doctors and scientists. They contacted politicians to express their belief that some approved medical devices might be too dangerous for patients.
One of the devices in question is used in mammograms, reports Reuters. FDA staff warned the agency that it could be harmful. The device was approved for sale.
It's definitely a strange scenario. Most employers require employees to sign off on agreements acknowledging that work email and computers are not private.
The FDA was no different. In fact, each computer warns users that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy on their computers. And that the government can go ahead and intercept communications for any lawful purpose, according to the Washington Post.
So it seems that the employees should have been on notice. They were checking private email accounts, but they used work consoles. Yet they still filed suit.
Their argument is that the FDA did violate their right to privacy. They also allege that they were retaliated against for their whistleblower activities.
Now the FDA has been sued for monitoring private emails on work computers, you might want to double check your own computer policies. Make sure employees know what is and isn't private.