Email Privacy Laws

Written by Gregg Ruais
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A recent United State Supreme Court case, the United States vs. Councilman, actually ruled in favor of internet service providers that want to store information contained in emails before messages are delivered. While it takes only milliseconds to cache text and attachment information, this still raises concerns over email privacy. How much privacy do people really have when using the Internet?

Internet Service Providers do not have hoards of employees reading people's private emails. However, you have to wonder what these companies will try to do with the information they gather. Will they keep profiles on all their customers? Will they release information to other companies? These are major concerns among people who value their privacy.

Do Email Privacy Laws Matter?

During October of 2004, the History Channel ran a special on how the United States government secretly monitors all phone calls and email correspondence. Of course, the government does not have enough employees to listen in on all conversations and read all emails. According to the television program, government computers are designed to pick up certain high-risk words. The computers the government uses interpret hundreds of languages. Supposedly, the findings are used to root out terrorism. While it's very easy to doubt the government's ability to capture sound bytes from all conversations, it's safe to assume they monitor more than they let us know about.

One thing we know about email privacy laws in the workplace is that once people sign their names on contracts, they agree to abide by corporate rules. Businesses have the ability to enforce their email policies through email monitoring. In order to avoid litigation over email privacy, companies should be very open and forthright about their email tracking policies.


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