Friday, November 20, 2009

Who's reading your email?

According to this article in the Wall Street Journal, it's getting a bit tougher--before the courts anyway--to monitor an employee's email. What I found fascinating is that 38% of companies have someone on staff whose job it is to read outgoing emails.

And that means your personal accounts, too. At least if you access them from the office:

In another case this year, Bonnie Van Alstyne, a former vice president of sales and marketing at Electronic Scriptorium Ltd., a data-management company, was in the thick of a testy legal battle in Virginia state court with the company over employment issues when it came to light that her former boss had been accessing and reading her personal AOL email account. The monitoring went on for more than a year, continuing after Ms. Van Alstyne left the company. Ms. Van Alstyne sometimes used her personal email account for business purposes, and her supervisor said he was concerned that she was sharing trade secrets.

The supervisor, Edward Leonard, had accessed her account "from home and Internet cafes, and from locales as diverse as London, Paris, and Hong Kong," according to legal filings in the case.

Ms. Van Alstyne sued Mr. Leonard and the company for accessing her email without authorization. A jury sided with her, and the case eventually settled.

Um, she left the company. Continuing to access her personal account after she is gone sounds like stalking to me. I wonder if Mr. Leonard is still with the company?

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