There was a news story this morning about a top ranking Federal official who called his staff into a meeting to discuss news leaks. According to the news report, whose accuracy I do not know, but have no reason to disbelieve at the moment, before entering the meeting all staff members were required to turn over their cell phones, both government issued and private, so they could be examined to try to determine the source of the leaks.
I work for state government, and I have always assumed that my private cell phone was still my private device, and per the 4th Amendment, they'd need a search warrant in order to search it, particularly in a "sweep" where there was no evidence that I committed a crime or that my cell phone posed an immediate threat to anyone but they were just searching a whole group of employees' cell phones in a fishing expedition to see whether anyone was doing anything wrong (Is that an incorrect assumption???)
For a VERY long time I did not even bring my cell phone to work with me, and for even longer, I kept it turned off the entire time I was at work if I did -- because my view is that I shouldn't be taking personal calls or texts or whatever while I am on my employer's time. I also DID worry about conducting State business on my personal cell phone because I was worried that if I did so, I would be out of compliance with our State's Open Records and Records Retention laws. So even while MANY of my co-workers gave out their cell phone numbers and accepted business calls on them during evenings & weekends, I did not.
More recently, mostly due to pressure to be available nearly 24/7 to answer questions, do last minute research or provide documents during off-hours, etc., and due to being required to give my cell phone number to my employer so they could reach me "in an emergency", and due to the expectation that I would respond to work e-mails and/or texts during weekends, evenings (as late as 11 p.m.), and early mornings (as early as 5 a.m.) I have started receiving my work e-mail & texts on my personal cell phone during off-hours just so that I didn't need to remain glued to a computer 24/7 and (since I now travel a lot for my job) so that I could continue to receive my work e-mail even while traveling.
I don't like all this stuff going on on the same personal cell phone that I use to communicate with my spouse, family members, college friends, neighbors, elected officials, play games on, etc. I have asked for an employer-provided cell phone just for business purposes and they have denied the request (multiple times).
I am starting to think that I need to obtain a whole separate cell phone and separate cell phone service and a separate cell phone account just for work-related business... which doesn't seem fair since they don't deem me in need of a work-provided cell phone.
I guess my question is just: how much of my personal cell phone (and any communications on it) and cell phone records does my government employer have a right to demand access to just because they're curious and I work there?
The story in today's news (if true) kind of is my worst nightmare.