Imagine you are a Corporate Security Analyst, an employee of Provincial Worldwide and assigned to the company’s Corporate Protection Team.
In this case, you have been notified by Mr. Newman, Human Resources Director for Provincial Worldwide, that the company has just terminated Mr. John Belcamp, a former engineer in the company’s New Products Division, for cause (consistent tardiness and absences from work). Mr. Newman tells you that during Mr. Belcamp’s exit interview earlier that day, the terminated employee made several strange statements that seem to elude to a current program the company is working on.
Mr. Belcamp’s statements made Mr. Newman fear he might be taking Provincial’s intellectual property with him to his new employer (undoubtedly a competitor). In particular, Mr. Newman is worried about the loss of the source code for “Product X,” which the company is counting on to earn millions in revenue over the next several years. Mr. Newman provides you a copy of the source code to use in your investigation. Lastly, Mr. Newman tells you to remember that the Company wants to retain the option to refer the investigation to law enforcement in the future, so anything you do should be with thought about later potential admissibility in court. He tells you that in a conversation with other Corporate executives that their understanding of the investigative technological issues and how they have anything to do with a person’s right as an employee seem a bit lacking; so you will need to be detailed in any explanation.
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” While the Fourth Amendment is most commonly interpreted to only affect/restrict governmental power (e.g., law enforcement), the fact that a formal criminal investigation is a possibility (and the Company has no desire to be named in a civil lawsuit) means you must consider its effect to your actions.