McLaren was an employee of Microsoft Corporation. In December 1996, Microsoft suspended McLaren’s employment pending an investigation into accusations of sexual harassment and “inventory questions.” McLaren requested access to his electronic mail to disprove the allegations against him. According to McLaren, he was told he could access his e-mail only by requesting it through company officials and telling them the location of a particular message. By memorandum, McLaren requested that no one tamper with his Microsoft office workstation or his e-mail. McLaren’s employment was terminated on December 11, 1996.
Following the termination of his employment, McLaren filed suit against the company alleging as his sole cause of action a claim for invasion of privacy. In support of his claim, McLaren alleged that, on information and belief, Microsoft had invaded his privacy by “breaking into” some or all of the personal folders maintained on his office computer and releasing the contents of the folders to third parties. According to McLaren, the personal folders were part of a computer application created by Microsoft in which e-mail messages could be stored. Access to the e-mail system was obtained through a network password. Access to personal folders could be additionally restricted by a “personal store” password created by the individual user. McLaren created and used a personal store password to restrict access to his personal folders.
McLaren concedes in his petition that it was possible for Microsoft to “decrypt” his personal store password. McLaren alleges, however, that “by allowing him to have a personal store password for his personal folders, McLaren manifested and Microsoft recognized an expectation that the personal folders would be free from intrusion and interference.” McLaren characterizes Microsoft’s decrypting or otherwise “breaking in” to his personal folders as an intentional, unjustified, and unlawful invasion of privacy.
Did Microsoft unlawfully invade McLaren’s privacy? Explain.

  • CreatedOctober 02, 2015
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