Officials at Minnesota’s state colleges and universities have agreed to scrap a controversial cellphone rule that employees had denounced as an invasion of privacy, according to an agreement announced Tuesday.
The rule, which took effect April 1, gave college officials the right to inspect employees’ personal cellphones and computers, triggering protests from union members.
Now, the colleges will simply ask employees to turn over any government data on their devices, rather than demand to inspect the devices themselves, under an agreement worked out by college and union officials. The deal awaits approval from Chancellor Steven Rosenstone.
“I’m definitely satisfied with the agreement,” said Ricardo Muggli, a representative of the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees. “I think it works to protect everyone’s privacy.”
Originally, officials had insisted on the right to inspect personal devices for text messages or other information that would be considered “government data” under state law.
But in the face of protests from faculty and other employees, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system (MnSCU) announced April 26 that it would not enforce the policy while it worked out new language with the unions. The original plan also drew ire from some state lawmakers, who had threatened to hold hearings on the cellphone rule.
The latest agreement, announced Tuesday, largely mirrors the wording that two faculty unions proposed in February, said Kathryn Engdahl, an attorney with the Inter Faculty Organization. “We were pleased that they pretty much embraced that language,” she said.
MnSCU officials declined to comment on the deal until it is finalized by Rosenstone.