By Bill Wright
The courts continue to explore the limits of employers’ authority over employees’ social media accounts. An employer in Arizona discovered that one of its employees had posted a video of a confidential business meeting to Vimeo, and had shared the link and his password to the site with two other employees. The employer sued the now-former employees for violation of the Stored Communications Act (“SCA”) and various state law claims (e.g. breach of their confidentiality agreements). The theory behind the SCA claim was that the employee who posted the video did not have authority to allow others to access the confidential information. In this case, the court dismissed the SCA claim because (1) the employee did not obtain the video in the first place by accessing the employer’s electronic communication service; moreover (2) the other employees accessed Vimeo with authority from the owner of the account. “Sending or using a link and password to access a personal account created on a third party website does not appear to violate the SCA.” Castle Megastore Group, Inc. v. Wilson et al., No CV-12-02101-PHX-DGC (D. Ariz. Feb. 25, 2013).
According to the court, employees may authorize access to their own accounts without violating federal law. Of course, posting confidential information even with privacy settings on, might violate confidentiality agreements, misappropriate trade secrets, or violate any number of state statutes and common law duties. This employer will have another day in the state court.