I have an employer-issued computer and a google-based email account. I use both the computer and the email account solely for work purposes. I am permitted to bring the computer home with me, provided it is used only for work purposes. This hasn't been a problem, and I understand that it's their device (not mine) and so I follow the rules. I understand that if they wanted to, they could inspect it at any time, etc. That's all fine. But I was quite alarmed today when I was told that if I did any of the following things...
- Check my work email at home using my home computer,
- Check my work email anywhere using my own smartphone,
- Connect my own smartphone (I own it, I pay for the contract, and it's not issued by work) for any purpose - be it work or otherwise - to the employer-provided internet network (including making a phone call using the wifi)...
...my personal device could be taken from me and its entire contents searched for relevant data were there some sort of a lawsuit or subpoena. I asked many clarification questions, such as why the home computer could be taken even though all the email contents are stored on a server elsewhere, etc. and was told in no uncertain terms that my use of their network forfeits any right I might have to expect privacy on my devices. They confirmed that, even though I only check their web-based gmail account my entire hard drive on my home computer could be taken if there was cause.
I'm not in the know about legal issues, but want to fully understand my rights. Also, assuming that they are in fact correct, can I mitigate this at all? I use my home computer for a side business and it would be financially devastating if it were to disappear unexpectedly.
The jurisdiction is Vermont, USA. I'm employed in the public sector, not a private business.
NB - I'm new to the tags on this site, so please advise if I've mis-tagged this post.