Email Liability - Is Your enterprise Protected?

The dangers to fellowships posed by email article first got serious national concentration in the Microsoft anti-trust trial. The legal implications of the Microsoft suit, and other trials where cases have hinged on e-mail evidence, make it clear that companies, as well as individuals, are liable for what happens on their email system.

For example, in April 2002, an internal e-mail was sent from a Kpmg executive to 33 recipients stating that the firm had given a purposely incomplete list of tax security clients to the Irs, which prompted an additional one Kpmg executive to e-mail vice chairman Jeffrey Stein: "Given the sensitivity of this situation, should we be putting all this in print?" Plaintiff lawyers uncovered the damaging e-mails, which led Kpmg to admit to criminal wrongdoing and agree to pay 6 million.

Email Letterhead

In an additional one case, Wall road venture bank J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. Was ordered to pay .1 million in fines to resolve accusations that it failed to withhold e-mails sought in investigations of stock research analyst misconduct.

The most frequent cases, however, where e-mails are crucial exhibits are worker lawsuits against a company. These lawsuits consist of Sexual Harassment cases which often use as evidence e-mails by supervisors or other employees with lewd and sexually explicit content, discrimination cases which have used e-mails by employees containing racial or religious remarks or e-mails with comments on age, gender, or reproduction of an employee, and in defamation cases which use e-mails by employees commenting on someone's conduct, character, or performance.

The use of emails in lawsuits has become such a serious issue that many fellowships in the guarnatee commerce now offer policies for Internet and email liability. Coverage includes such items as damages associated with security breaches, as well as, libel, slander, and defamation of character. But, guarnatee aside, what can you do to safe you company?

Is it legal for a company to perform email auditing (sometimes called email monitoring), where email is checked after the actual transmission, and email interception (sometimes called email filtering), where email is intercepted and checked while transmission, on worker e-mail accounts? Well, yes and no. Cases in the United States have proven that both are permitted if (a) done in a reasonable manner, (b) backed up by an email policy, and (c) backed by worker training that has been documented.

The best security is a clear e-mail security Policies and Procedures document that covers all the potential danger zones, then well-planned, quarterly training that includes all new employees and all new updates to policies. The community for Human resource supervision urges their members to originate a clear training agenda to ensure allowable and sufficient use of email. One recognize claims that 73% of fellowships do not offer Web training and 70% do not have a written article security policy.

Another prominent security fellowships can adopt is the increasing of legal disclaimers in the footer of every e-mail. Since article sent via email carries the same weight, legally, as those sent on company letterhead, if the email address includes the name of a company, a disclaimer such as, "the views of this email and of company X's employees do not necessarily reflect the views of company X," should be built into the template of every company e-mail account.

Another good idea is to emphasize in training, and with intermittent e-mails/memos reminders, that employees must remember that the email theory is for company use, not personal use, and that their emails to others should be treated with the same respect as a company letter or memo. Also, it is a good idea to remind employees in writing that company email accounts belong to the company and are, therefore, not confidential for the employee, only the company. Employees should also be instructed to reveal what they have written before they send their messages and not send messages without verifying the accuracy of the factual data to be conveyed and verifying that the data about to be sent is not confidential information.

Email Liability - Is Your enterprise Protected?

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