Faculty Unions in Minnesota Say New Cellphone Rule Violates Privacy

Instructors, especially adjuncts, often use personal cellphones and mobile devices to do their work. Those devices may now be subject to search by public-college employers in Minnesota under a new rule, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

Two faculty unions in Minnesota have been actively opposing the rule and its privacy implications since it was first introduced in December by the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, but system officials cite state laws on “government data” as the reason the measure is necessary, according to the newspaper.

Under the rule, set to go into effect Friday, faculty members at colleges in the system may have to turn over their phones or be subject to an inspection that would allow employers to copy or delete work-related materials such as text messages or voice mail, according to the Star Tribune.

Kevin Lindstrom, president of the Minnesota State College Faculty, told the newspaper the new rule is “a free pass to go on a fishing expedition.”

“The expectations of employees haven’t changed,” Doug Anderson, a spokesman for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, told the Star Tribune. “All that’s really changed is the language that we’re using to inform employees of what those obligations are.”

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