General discussion


Are Email disclaimers binding?

By jdclyde ·
I have been seeing these more and more recently. The question is, are they binding? This is an example taken from a recent Netgear email.

This e-mail, including attachments, may include confidential and/or proprietary information, and may be used only by the person or entity to which it is addressed. If the reader of this e-mail is not the intended recipient or his or her authorized agent, the reader is hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution or copying of this e-mail is prohibited. If you have received this e-mail in error, please notify the sender by
replying to this message and delete this e-mail immediately

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I'm gonna say no...

by jmgarvin In reply to Are Email disclaimers bin ...

There are a number of reason:
1) Non-repudiation - You cannot say with 100% certainty that you got the email, copied, and/or that you forwared it on.

2) Email is done in plain text. ANYONE can copy the message in transit or otherwise.

3) You didn't sign an NDA, so how is this binding? As far as I know, unless you sign an NDA or something of the sort, there is no legally binding contract.

4) You have implicitly signed this contract by open the email, right? I don't think so...or we couldn't fight spam.

All in all, I think these "EULAs" for email are bogus, but I really wouldn't want to have to deal with the hassle to prove it ;-)

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Companies just DON'T GET IT!

by mroonie In reply to I'm gonna say no...

"Many small firms today utilize an 'email disclaimer' that can not guarantee the privacy of information contained in an email. The information may be confidential and subject to protection under the law, but the fact remains that no real protection is provided as a preventative for a security breach of your information."

Here is the link to the <a href="">full article</a> I pulled this quote from

There is no, for sure, way to know if the disclaimer is legally binding or not when the disclaimer comes in this form. Which is why disclaimers shouldn't be used in the first place as proof for validity.

This is just another reason why I'm convinced businesses have NO IDEA what it means to have good security. Like instead of using an email disclaimer, why not use email anti-theft software? Or some other tool that will actually reflect professionalism, formality, and proof.

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Proprietary Information

by jor55 In reply to Companies just DON'T GET ...

Some of my company's employees use such disclaimers but we have no official policy on their use. However, we do have very good software that detects proprietary information and blocks e-mails going outside our intranet and informs the sender of why the mail was blocked. That's about the best my company can do aside from regular compulsory security briefings.

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you are right,

by Jaqui In reply to I'm gonna say no...

an email disclaimer is not legally binding.
what they are is a legal loophole for the sender's typos in filling in the to field in their email client.

they can't be sued for damages because of sending that confidential data to the wrong person with it.

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In case, I would say...

by dawgit In reply to Are Email disclaimers bin ...

Yes. Reason: 1) clearly stated in the e-mail, that their desire was to do so. 2) it could be copy writen, (or at least copy protected by CC) in being propritory in the companies purpose. 3) It would also be dependent on 'Their' location. (The originating jurisdiction, alowing it to be so). In Europe it is alowed. Here in Germany, an e-mail can also be used as a binding contract. As to the must 'delete immediate' part, no. And that can not be enforced. (legally) It could than through off the whole clause. (un-solicited e-mails are the property of the reciever, even if krap, spam.)

edited to add: IMHO, naturally ;\ -d

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I really can't see how.

by TonytheTiger In reply to Are Email disclaimers bin ...

Normally things like this must be 'signed off' on by the parties involved to be enforceable. I think it's either an attempt at CYA thing (I don't see that working either), or simply someone who wants to look important.

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by OnTheRopes In reply to Are Email disclaimers bin ...
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by sean In reply to Are Email disclaimers bin ...

The immediate problem I see is this, if you send it to me by accident, or it gets forwarded to me by someone, then I am the intended recipient, ergo, your disclaimer means nothing. Its not my problem if you get the wrong email address etc etc.

My opinion for what its worth.

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by Maevinn In reply to Are Email disclaimers bin ...

The problem that I have is that the vast majority of such warnings state that it is intended for the addressee. Since very few emails have anything in the body indicating specific addressees, that pretty well means anyone it is forwarded to, in addition to the original recipients designated by the originator.

I tend to collect the more creative ones, though. Here's one that I particularly enjoy:

IMPORTANT: This email is intended for the use of the individual addressee(s) named above, and may contain information that is confidential, privileged or unsuitable for overly sensitive persons with low self-esteem, no sense of humor, or irrational religious beliefs. If you are not the intended recipient, any dissemination, distribution or copying of this email is not authorized (either explicitly or implicitly) and constitutes an irritating social faux pas, you gormless and ugsome fool. No animals were harmed in the production and transmission of this email, although the kelpie next door is living on borrowed time. If you have received this email in error, please carefully fold it until all corners, cover with duct tape and plastic wrap, and place in a quiet, dark drawer until you are contacted with further instructions.

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My take on this

by jdclyde In reply to Are Email disclaimers bin ...

sounds like it is pretty much in line with everyone else here.

Just like in the mail, if someone sends you something you didn't ask for, they can not charge you for it if you don't return it.

And yes, as I have not signed any agreements with the sender, I am not bound by their policies.

I didn't think there would be any kind of legal backing, but I see it so much these days that I just had to ask if anyone knew about something to say otherwise.

Thanks everyone.

Oh yeah EnBee, just because someone sends me an email does not make it confidential. (In my mind at least)

If there is a clear understanding where I ask you not to share the information with anyone else and you agree, then it would be a direct betrayal, and I would have to send you to ****.....

If it is clearly personal information, then again, descression is adviced.

In the case of oneUNAW, she was just nuts. When someone is clearly suffering from being a raving lunitic, all bets are off. Not sure if you had noticed though, I was fairly quiet except to get new comers up to speed when they would show up late for the party. I left most of the byting to Dawg.

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