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Reading employee E-Mails

By TopesBlues ·
We have recently been requested to forward a copy of all employee E-mails to there respective dept. managers so they can read them. I know that company E-mails are company property and the company has a right to look at them. The problem I have with it is that they are not telling the employees that they are doing this. It?s more like they are trying to get some dirt on there employees I am not aware of any major E-Mail abuses going on so I'm not sure why they need to do this right now. I was also told by a friend that there might be some privacy issues with the managers being able to read the mail before an employee does. Is what were doing standard practice in most companies now? It seems kind of undermining to me.

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Completely legal

by Oz_Media In reply to Reading employee E-Mails

Any presonal correspondence should not be shared on someone else's time, equipment and bandwidth. They are 100% right in reading the mail, or at least being ABLE to.
I have set up a SPAM filter for one client where I can flag mail being sent by certain employees and have it sent to someone else in stead of the recipient.

I can literally say that ANY mail leaving with selected keywords such as 'resume' or the 'bosses name' for eg. be captured and forwarded to the boss, I can choose whether to send to the intended recipient too or it is up to the 'interceptor' to approve and forward the email as normal. This is done without ANYNOE having any knowledge of the intercept.

I can also intercept email to a specific address, like a competitor or many other variables that are administrator configured. NO there is no law broken in these methods.

The bottom line is simply common sense.

DON'T use company email for personal mail unless it is okay.
ANYTHING you do send via company email is no longer YOUR email but the comapny's and they are free to deal with it as they choose.

On someone else's email system, you have NO user rights to privacy. The company is 100% justilfied in reading SOME or ALL email without crossing any lines.

They are justified, capable and right in handling mail via their server in ANY way they want to.

i have been asked to secretly monitor email sends from certain 'questionable' employees and it has been thier death with the company they were with.

No you have no rights, yes tha company can do what they want to.
If it is private or censored, do it from home, online email or not at all, the choice is yours not your employers. When on company time, the choice is the company's not yours.

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Just imagine

by voldar In reply to Completely legal

how big should be the Manager mailbox when he decide to do that for 300 users LOL. And then, add the time to read these e-mails, I think that the manager will not have any time to really do his job but just reading e-mails! Sorry folks, but I think this is just something like "let's give a job to our Exchange administrator!" rather then really have a DISCUSSION or a NOTICE with the employees about the use of the office e-mails.
It's a funny idea anyway.
I agree with you that you can always filter the messages, but to read EVERYTHING is way toooooo much!

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Understood

by Oz_Media In reply to Just imagine

Of course my example was an extreme to iterate my point.

the main use for this type of thing is a sales rep for example, if he was looking at other companies or said to be sending his resume out from his company email account, you could flag any mail leaving from his address or even flag mail from him that has a specific attatchment, ie. Resume.doc, pdf etc.

I don't know if there is really any use in reading ALL mail unless prompted to do so in search for something specific. It is not unlawful though and completely understandable if the boss has a reason to be weary of a persons mail.

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Firstly even if the mail never gets read

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Understood

There is always a record of it if there are any repercussions from an e-mail that was supposed to be sent form a company or someone within that company so even if the person was to delete it off their workstation there is always a copy available in case of some form of legal action if only to prove that it never originated from where ever.

Think of it more as an Emergency Backup System as this is the most cost effective way to do something like this. However there is the temptation to read all these e-mails which defeats the whole purpose of e-mails in the first place.

For example if a sales person sends out a quote for a sale/job/repair or whatever and it gets diverted to another station to be read before sending we are back to the days of snail mail where a letter has to pass through several departments before it gets sent. So instead of the recipient getting an immediate reply to a question they are kept waiting for up to several days for the request that they originally asked for to be filled.

Under these circumstances most people would just take their work elsewhere and I might add quite rightly as well.

As a backup for legal purposes and the occasional glossing through it is a good idea but anything else is self defeating.

Col

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completely legal, unethical, and self-defeating

by Jdumbrille In reply to Completely legal

The problem is defining time that belongs to someone else. Yes, the intellectual and physical property belongs to the company. And yes the new tools are compelling in their elegance.

We have to wake up to the fact that we're co-creating value with our employees; they have the same intelligence potential as we do. The problem is that these kinds of spying initiatives have a habit of dumbing down organizations, and , I believe, reveal a paucity of intelligence and imagination among the managers that instigate them.

If there is a risk of terrorism or othere extreme and unwanted acts within the organization, a key word spider may be deployed on emails to detect this, with alerts triggering. End of story. Middle management should get back to work! Bean counting of this sort is worth an iota of return compared to positive motivation of employees and good planning.

If there is an issue that employees are wasting time, or performing some form of 'moonlighting' at work, if the organization cant detect the employees lack of engagement except through an electronic eye it is in trouble. And if these acts persist, maybe look at your the managment's qualities and procedures, rather than the faults of staff.

Employees already know they are being watched, and are dependent on the organizaiton. Stressing this relationship more turns the organizaation into a gulag, and can only exacerbate opposition. In fact, no one wants to be disengaged. The job of management is to provide the tools to bring ouot the best in employees; the job of upper management is to motivate middle managers to engage in real productivity that leverages more productivity among others.

As many have written, upper management in a good company is rarely obsessed about 'doing the right thing' as they are doing things right.

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Finally Common sense!!!

by jkaras In reply to completely legal, unethic ...

Excellent post and dispription of the issue. You clarified what I couldnt express properly.

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In the same sense

by Oz_Media In reply to completely legal, unethic ...

The original poster has no idea as to WHY these emails are being read all of a sudden.

This is most likely to stop a specific form of abuse of narrow down abuse to a single employee.

Perhaps someone is sending email to competitors and the company has been alerted. Now in my case I haev the login ID's and passwords for over 260 employees at four different comanies as well as server access. I could easily login and send email under multiple names and have it untraceable to a specific person. If I did that and company B got mail then called the boss at company A to say he was getting email that shouldn't be sent to him for whatever reason, company A may deploy such a method to trace who is sending what to whom and when.

It is a bit of a wild scenarion but not an impossible one by any means. If you don't know WHY you are being asked to do something you can ask but they are not obligated to share this info with you.

There may be a valid reason for needing this information, someone may be sending inappropriate mail to people under the company's guise but from multiple accounts, this is easily taced by email tracking this way. It isn't new, it isn't illegal and you never know, it may not be unjustified.

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sense and sensibility

by Jdumbrille In reply to In the same sense

We know that emails are in some cases being read as a kind of personal and professional surveillance for performance appraisal. I know from a major oil company manager that they track email and internet use to get a handle on productivity.

You're right, there may be some cases that make some form of email tracking justified. Some of these cases are - if not 'wild scenarios' - at least very rare. The case of multiple emails being sent under the company's guise IS something that needs to be tracked, as some hacking has recently resulted in this kind of abuse - these hacks not necessarily instigated by employees.
It's worthwhile distinguishing between intents and processes that are inherently self defeasting, and those that are useful.

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just a small addition

by highlander718 In reply to Completely legal

everything you say is correct. But ! There should be an official company policy that contains all of what you just said, that users are familiar with, they are "indoctrinated" with, and are signing for the reading and understanding of it.
After that ... it's their own risk they are taking.

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Goes without saying

by Oz_Media In reply to just a small addition

It doesn't need to be reiterated to employees that company email and web services are for company useage ONLY, this goes without saying.

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