Left Facebook open at work? The Israeli Labor court is on your side

The Israeli Regional Labor Court in Tel Aviv recently held that an employer that uses the company’s computer after an employee has inadvertently left his Facebook account open on that computer, must immediately log-off the employee's account. According to the Court’s decision, anyone who uses computers nowadays knows that it’s not an uncommon occurrence to come upon a computer at work that was previously used by another employee, who has not “logged out” of their email account, Facebook, or any other software or database that accesses their personal files. The subsequent user can therefore, without any difficulty, browse through the "previous user's" emails, Facebook account or other personal information. The Court emphasized that exploiting this situation to penetrate an employee’s personal correspondence, to browse through them or to perform various activities through the employee’s account, constitutes a violation of privacy, entitling the employee to compensation.

The Court also held that taking an employee’s mobile phone, without permission, constitutes a violation of privacy, even if the employer did not actually use the device or access its contents. The Court ruled that taking an employee's mobile phone without his or her consent, not only prevents the employee from using the device as a means for communications, but also involves an immediate threat by the employer to violate the personal and intimate “private virtual sphere” of the employee, a violation that is essentially no different than a prohibited entrance into a “private physical space”. The Court stressed that this prohibition also applies in situations where the employer suspects that the employee stores trade secrets or intellectual property, which belong to the employer, on that phone. The full Court decision, in Hebrew, is available here: Anna Gorlik v. Ilya Anbineder et al.