E-Mail Privacy

If someone can access your computer, they can probably access your e-mail. Certainly employers can access any files on their employees' computers. On your home computer, your e-mail program will allow you to password protect your e-mails, but the password can be bypassed.

I work for a huge company. How can my employer possibly monitor my e-mails?

Your company is probably using a program that looks for key words. Obviously, words that indicate sexual or violent content are monitored, but your company can monitor words such as "new job," "hate" and "bomb."

If it is illegal to tap my phone, why can my employer read my e-mails?

Typically, you agreed to give up any privacy rights when you were employed and signed off on the company policies or employee handbook.

Sidebar: Laws that make intercepting wire communications illegal do not cover "stored" documents. Once an e-mail is read, it is no longer being transferred (and thus cannot be intercepted) and the laws do not apply.

What is the point of the lengthy privacy statement I get with almost every e-mail these days?

The purpose of the privacy statements is to impress upon you that the information in the e-mail is confidential and intended only for you. The statements also, hopefully, dissuade recipients of misdirected e-mails from passing the e-mails along to other people.

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