Skip to content
Name: United States v. Ziegler
Case #: 05-30177
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 01/30/2007

In an employee/employer context, although the employee may retain a legitimate expectation of privacy in his workplace office, valid consent to search by the employer provides an exception to the protection of the 4th Amendment. (Mancusi v. DeForte, 392 U.S. 364 (1968).) Here Ziegler was employed by Frontline, a company that services Internet merchants by processing online electronic payments. Within the company, employee use of company owned workplace computers was monitored via a firewall. Through training and company manuals, employees were told that the computers were company owned and not to be used for activities of a personal nature. Frontline became aware that Ziegler was accessing child pornography sites from his computer in his office and reported the matter to the FBI. Working with the FBI, it then made back-up files and turned those and the computer over to the government. Under these circumstances, although Ziegler retained a legitimate expectation of privacy in his workplace office, Frontline retained common authority and, thus, had the ability to consent to a search of the office and the computer.