Email mon­i­tor­ing . . . what’s public and what’s pri­vate?

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WHILE there is gen­er­ally no rea­son to ex­pect that your em­ployer is mon­i­tor­ing ev­ery com­mu­ni­ca­tion on your work email ad­dress, the em­ployer is en­ti­tled to mon­i­tor all work­place email com­mu­ni­ca­tions. For this rea­son, a sen­si­ble ap­proach to how you use the work email should be taken. A rule of thumb is not to use your work email for any­thing you wouldn’t want your em­ployer to see, in­clud­ing such things as job ap­pli­ca­tions or no­ti­fi­ca­tions, jokes or images that may be con­strued as in­ap­pro­pri­ate, or per­sonal in­for­ma­tion that you would not want to be made public. IN MOST or­gan­i­sa­tions, emails writ­ten us­ing work ac­counts are ac­tu­ally the prop­erty of your or­gan­i­sa­tion so the sim­ple an­swer is work emails are never pri­vate. How­ever, most busi­nesses al­low their em­ploy­ees to send per­sonal emails via the com­pany net­work as long they don’t con­tra­vene the com­pany email pol­icy. But be care­ful what you send – emails that run through a com­pany net­work can’t be de­stroyed and can be ac­cessed and mon­i­tored at any time. How­ever im­prac­ti­cal, the only safe pol­icy is to as­sume that ev­ery­thing you send is be­ing read by your boss. IN 2000 the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment in­tro­duced the Na­tional Privacy Prin­ci­ples to ad­dress privacy is­sues within the pri­vate sec­tor. How­ever, peo­ple need to re­mem­ber that while emails may have been deleted from your email pro­gram, they are never re­ally gone. And while mes­sages may have been sent from your own per­sonal email provider via your work net­work, in cer­tain cir­cum­stances IT ad­min­is­tra­tive staff will be able to le­git­i­mately ac­cess staff email and brows­ing logs. Given this, my ad­vice to peo­ple is that they should keep to work-re­lated ac­tiv­i­ties when util­is­ing work email. YOUR em­ploy­ers can mon­i­tor your emails if they wish to do so. The servers that power your work­place com­puter are owned by your em­ployer. Emails have most def­i­nitely been used in dis­ci­plinary mat­ters so don’t for a mo­ment think that what you write at work is pri­vate. Even if you use the of­fice com­puter to log into a per­sonal email ser­vice, your em­ployer can still ac­cess those emails. Work time, work equip­ment, work servers equals ac­cess. There also has been a case where an em­ployee landed him­self in hot water over emails he sent from home but log­ging into the of­fice email.

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