Email privacy guide

Is someone reading your email without you noticing it? In an era where almost everything we do is in some way connected to the internet, email and workplace privacy is becoming an increasingly discussed topic, as technology blurs the lines between work and personal life. Many of us may not know that our employer is allowed to read and view our emails. Because so, if you want to keep private stuff private, it is important that you are aware of how you use your email and for which purposes. To get an overview, we provide you with this email privacy guideline and some general thoughts you should be aware of when you use your company email. But remember; the following is just advice. There might be specific laws or rules depending on the company you are working for, and the country you are working in.

How email monitoring works

Employers who are email monitoring everything their employees are doing are probably rare, as employers would be spending more time on monitoring than managing. Email monitoring is more likely to happen if an employer is actually worried about a particular employee, or if they are worried about sensitive information leaving the company. But be aware of email monitoring software that can monitor sent and received emails and also block banned websites. Such software can also search for certain content like inappropriate words such as words considered to be sexual harassment or words that are related to racial discrimination.

Privacy policy

Employees should assume that their work email is being monitored. However, your company might have an email privacy policy that you are not aware of. Therefore, it is a good idea to ask your employer to clarify their privacy policy in order to know if your emails are monitored while you are at work, when you are absent or if they are monitored at all. Your employer should provide a clear email policy, stating any monitoring of employees and what is seen as a breach. Additionally, the employees need to be made aware of the possible consequences of using email for personal use against company policies. With that being said, most companies allow their employees to use the Internet and email, provided that it does not interfere with work.

Keep work confined to work

It is always a good idea to keep work and personal business separate no matter what your company policy says. Meaning, that you should always use your private email address for personal use, and your employer will not be able to track your emails and you keep work and private communication separate. If your employer’s email policy allows staff to indulge in a limited amount of personal usage, then you can legitimately send and receive personal emails but be aware of the content of your email when you use your work email account. This does not just apply to work email, it also applies to anything your work computer or work phone is used for. Also, it might not be a good idea to add your work email account to private related email distribution lists.

Emailing company documents to your personal email

Most of us have probably been in the situation where you have more work to do, but it is getting late and you want to go home, so you just email files from your work to your personal email account to finish your work at home. Be careful when doing this, because even though it is not your intention, it could create the impression that you are trying to steal confidential information, when you are actually just trying to get some work done from home, while using your own private email account to send files so you can work remotely. Before downloading files and forwarding emails, make sure you do not download information without permission. Do your best to secure your company’s data and communication to customers, partners and your fellow colleagues.

Emails can be used against you

Assume that any email or any other electronic communication your send using your employers email account or other device later can be used against you. The most common kinds of email and Internet misuse are inappropriate language, violation of company policies, breaking confidentiality or unnecessary personal use. Which is why you should always remember that nothing is ever deleted in this digitalized era we live in today. An email you sent and deleted several months ago that you do not think can do harm any more, can later be used against you and cause problems long after you sent it.

Related: Is your personal data safe in the cloud?



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