Knoxville, TN asked in Civil Rights, Communications Law and Internet Law for Tennessee

Q: Can a corporation require me to give access to my phone at any time and expel me if I do not comply? And is this legal?

Im 19 and in a fraternity and our chapter advisor is making members sign a document that says, "Upon request of the fraternity service center, Province Archon, Chapter Advisor, or Executive Officer, I will immediately, without delay, open and share any electronic communication that I have been a participant. Should I delay in the slightest, this will be treated as immediate and permanent Resignation."

I feel that this is an invasion of privacy laws and don't see how this could be legal. However, I have very little knowledge of privacy laws especially with dealing with private corporations. I would greatly appreciate having the insight from someone who is more knowledgeable of law in general.

1 Lawyer Answer

A: It sounds like the fraternity is a voluntary non-profit organization. In the U.S. we enjoy what is called freedom of contract, which allows us to make agreements for all kinds of things. Sometimes agreements can't be enforced (even if you sign them). What the document is describing sounds draconian and far-reaching, and you have good reason to question it. If you want to remain a member of the fraternity, consider just signing it, notwithstanding the risks of being subject to that provision. If you are ever asked to divulge information that you believe goes beyond what the organization should be entitled to, consider consulting an attorney at that time. Without knowing the full language of the document, your relationship to the organization, the organization's reasons for including that kind of requirement in an agreement, and the facts of an actual instance of information being demanded, it is difficult to provide any specific response whether the document or the demand violates your right of privacy.

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