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Corrections Corporation of America Message Board

  • DocLop DocLop Mar 6, 1999 2:02 PM Flag

    Beware

    Raytheon demands disclosure of Internet
    chatters
    8.39 p.m. ET (140 GMT) March 4, 1999
    By Leslie
    Miller,�Associated Press


    CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) �
    Chatting anonymously about your employer on the Internet
    may not be as safe as you think.

    Raytheon
    Corp., the Lexington-based defense giant, is suing 21
    online chatters who it believes are employees disclosing
    company secrets. The company has asked Yahoo Inc., which
    runs the offending chat group, to identify the people
    behind their electronic handles.

    "We are
    committed to and take seriously our responsibility to
    protect proprietary information,'' said Raytheon
    spokeswoman Toni Simonetti on Thursday. "We'll take legal
    action necessary to that.''

    The case underscores
    a difficulty with Internet chat groups, which
    encourage the kinds of conversations that might take place
    after work in a bar. But the electronic message boards
    create an illusion of privacy that can embolden people
    to broadcast their thoughts all over the world.


    In the case of Raytheon, a $19.5 billion company
    with 100,000 employees, on-line messages were
    allegedly posted by workers who assumed such screen names
    as RSCDeepthroat, SadNTexas and snowbaw198.


    The messages revealed what Raytheon claims are
    company secrets, mostly about manpower projections and
    financial issues. In the complaint filed in Middlesex
    Superior Court in Cambridge last month, Raytheon said the
    workers violated employment agreements not to disclose
    confidential information.

    But much of the information
    revealed in the chat group was either speculative,
    inaccurate or already public.

    A spokeswoman for
    Yahoo, which is based in Santa Clara, Calif., said the
    company will comply with a subpoena if one is issued, but
    otherwise won't disclose a user's identification.


    "We have very, very strict privacy policies,'' Yahoo
    spokeswoman Diane Hunt said. "We're careful not to just give
    out user information.''

    Raytheon is asking
    for an injunction against the chatters preventing
    further disclosure of company secrets, compensatory
    damages and attorney fees and expenses. That worried
    some.

    "It seems kind of disturbing that a
    company would check up on employees this way,'' said
    Scott Charnas, an attorney who works for a law firm
    specializing in labor law and is not involved in the case.


    Charnas said he didn't know of any statute preventing
    Yahoo from disclosing the names of its chat group
    members.

    "There may be an expectation of privacy
    when people sign on with these screen names, but
    that's probably a false expectation,'' said Charnas.

 
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