Most employees know their bosses are usually within their rights snooping on workers' eMail, but text messaging has been in murkier territory.

A federal appeals court sought to clarify matters in a June 18 ruling by distinguishing between electronic communication that employers store on their servers, or pay someone to store, and communication they contract out for.

Employers must have either a warrant or the employee's permission to see messages that aren't stored by the employer or by someone the employer pays for storage, the court said.

The ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, hailed by digital


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