As I work, I keep a notebook. At a high level, it is a list of things I need to accomplish on a given day, or within the next few weeks. Sometimes I also use it as scratch paper, which means that I write down names of things (I am a programmer, so that might mean potentially sensitive information for a malicious agent).

When I work with scratch paper in the office, it is sufficient to deposit it in the recycling bin in the office, my managers see no need for it to be specifically destroyed. The employee handbook makes the general statements about not bringing home company documents, but does not mention personal notebooks specifically.

I am in an employment structure that sees me in a series of different short term positions (roughly 4 months each) at a series of different companies. At the end of each engagement I take my notebook home (as I do every evening), and place it on a shelf, where it stays.

Are there specific laws or precedents that cover this? Specifically for Canada and the US, but I am also interested in general. Or would this entirely be governed by company policy?

1 Answer 1


If an employee takes home information that his or her employer considers confidential, that would be a matter of company policy. The employer could discipline or fire the employee if it learned of the incident, and chose to act.

If the information is considered to be a trade secret, or part of one, disclosing it or mishandling it so as to risk disclosure could be a crime under US law. However, only in unusual cases is criminal action taken on such matters, normally it is left to civil lawsuits or internal company action. I do not know if Canada has a similar law.

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