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Wednesday, 10 May, 2000, 14:38 GMT 15:38 UK
Should your e-mails be screened at work?

UK employers are keeping a close eye on staff e-mails in an effort to trap those using sexist or racist language.

Automatic scanning equipment is being used to seek out potentially offensive words that set off an internal alarm, and the managers are then alerted.

The action is responding to a change in law that could see employees claiming up to £50,000 for receiving offensive e-mails at work.

Do you think these "e-mail spies" are a good idea, or do you consider it a personal infringement? Have you been the victim of a malicious e-mailer at work? Send us your views and experiences.


Your reaction



I think there is a fine line between encroaching on someone's personal freedom and securing the interests of the business as a whole.

Peter, UK
I think there is a fine line between encroaching on someone's personal freedom and securing the interests of the business as a whole. In my view, e-mail at work would not exist had an employer not spent a considerable sum investing in infrastructure to provide this. Without exception, the employer is making this investment solely to improve business communication.
With that said, the e-mail within the company's system theoretically is their property, and virtually all companies have guidelines prohibiting personal abuse (although this is policed to varying degrees). If something is so sensitive an employer cannot read it, then it is not company business and should be taken out of that loop.
Peter, UK

Your work e-mails belong to the company, and are not your private property. They own the computers and servers, and pay the electric. Get your own computer if you want privacy.
Jim, UK

If e-mails are being sent from the workplace then yes employers have a right to monitor what is being sent, however they cannot and should not be allowed to spy on their employees e-mail at home or in their private time! This would be a complete intrusion of privacy!
Also for the government to monitor e-mails, and telephone calls would be a serious act of totalitarianism, putting our rights to privacy at risk! Has anyone seen the film 'Enemy of the State'? It maybe just a fictional story but it has a very realistic plot, showing the governments power and corruption over the people by invading their privacy!
Richard, Wales



Seems equivalent to sitting in the office making private phone calls and reading magazines all day.

Tony, London
I surf the web and send personal emails from work (as I am now!) but I can't defend it. Seems equivalent to sitting in the office making private phone calls and reading magazines all day. It's your employers kit and he's paying for your time. I don't know why so many people who don't need it for their jobs are even provided with Internet connections on their desktops - it's an invitation to pour resources down the drain. Well, must get back to surfing...
Tony, London

People are confusing work email for home email. If the address being used belongs to your employer, you waive all right to privacy when you use it. However, the employer should have in place an Acceptable Use Policy, which states the conditions of use of web/ email/ internet use. Of course employers don't read letters that are sent to your home - it's stupid to draw such a comparison. Closer, but not an exact comparison would be letters to you at work. Many offices have a Post Room that opens any inbound letters. Imagine trying to keep your job if that porn magazine you ordered gets delivered to work.
Graham Freeman, England



I do not like the idea of my employer checking my email. I consider mail to be a private thing.

P Burchell, UK
I do not like the idea of my employer checking my email. I consider mail to be a private thing. Because of this, and because I am aware that my employer could scan my mail, I do not use it for personal mail. Obvious isn't it?
P Burchell, UK

Personally I have an e-mail address and my employer doesn't look into my messages because we are a small company. But if I were in that case I couldn't accept it because it's my freedom. I agree with Patrick when he says that it's as if my boss open the letters that I receive at home.
Stéphane de BOUARD, France

Of course a company should screen its employees' email, but there's no way to check it. As an example, I can send message via hotmail, or via my mobile phone. Can the company check my mobile phone?
Leo Young, The Netherlands

What a great idea! Everyone deserves to be free from prejudice and bigotry, what better way of doing so than making the spreading of offensive materials "socially unacceptable." We have the right to be protected by censorship. What has been learned cannot be unlearned. This is not Big brother, it is protection.
Judy, UK



I do not expect my employer to open up my personal letters.

Patrick O'Sullivan, Taiwan
E-mail should be treated exactly as if it was Royal mail. I do not expect my employer to open up my personal letters posted to me at my house. One could also view e-mail rather like a conversation you might have with a friend or colleague. I have been verbally abused in the pub, I can also give as good as I get. But I do not expect to have some nasty little man sitting next to me writing everything down in case I offend him or because he doesn't like dirty jokes. We really are on the way to (or is it back to) 1984.
Patrick O'Sullivan, Taiwan

Most emails are screened at work. I have no hang-ups about it. If I want to send private stuff I use hotmail or something like that. They can monitor that if they like. I have nothing to hide.
Ernest Stephenson, UK



If a friend sends you a picture of a naked woman at work that is hardly your fault.

Mike, UK
As I understand it from a legal position email address such as mike@yourcompany.com belong to the company providing the address. After all they own the servers etc. that you use to send an email from that address. Do they not then have the right to scan what is legally theirs anyway?
I do think that email scans should be carried out with extreme discretion which I am also sure isn't always the case. For example if a friend sends you a picture of a naked woman at work that is hardly your fault but I know some companies would hold that against you.
Mike, UK

Most people who have access to e-mail are office staff which implies a degree of trust and therefore I do not agree that employers should screen their employees e-mails this only serves to generate mistrust, and if they are not having their own e-mails screened then this smacks of double standards.
D Tyler, England



"Sexist" and "racist" ideas do not justify the invasion of your mind by morons who don't care about your right of free speech.

Dave Adams, USA
What a bunch of "poppycock"! If, you have to be afraid to express yourself you cannot be truly free. "Sexist" and "racist" ideas do not justify the invasion of your mind by morons who don't care about your right of free speech. The issue concerns your right to say what you damned well please. And, everybody has had that. But, today, people are becoming "slaves" to the most absurd ideas of "control" that our ancestors could have ever imagined. My advice is to speak up and keep on doing it. You have nothing to lose but the privacy of your mind.
Dave Adams, USA

There are people out there who put anonymous and negative "insider" information on their employer out on public message boards. If I were an employer, I'd like to know who these people are so that I could fire 'em!
Mark M. Newdick, USA/UK

How can you breach fundamental human rights? An e-mail is a totally private matter. Whether it is work place or home, opening private letters and mails is in human. If it is so, what shall we teach our kids? What good manners they can learn from this spoilt society?
Opening somebody's letters is fundamentally wrong. Unless the person is a proven criminal. If you have hired a criminal (legally proved in courts) then you are justified in keeping an eye over him. But if there are no criminal charges against the workers in office, opening their letters amounts to a crime by the employer.
V.V.Srinivasu, India/Japan



If they are attending to their own business on company time - it should be stopped.

Dave Johnston, USA
People are paid to do a job for their employer. If they are attending to their own business on company time - it should be stopped. I understand that employees are even playing games on the internet on company time.
Dave Johnston, USA

Outrageous! Will they be planting bugs in the office next, to catch those who swear or make racist comments? It seems big brother has now arrived - big time!
Mark Verth, UK



This can only be seen as a privilege or 'perk' and can never be thought of as a 'right'

Ian Bennett, Zimbabwe
I find this whole issue quite amusing - what most people seem to have ignored is that a company employs someone to do a specific job. In order to do that job certain resources are made available for the purpose of business. Many companies then allow their employees to use those resources (in a disciplined manner) for personal use. This can only be seen as a privilege or 'perk' and can never be thought of as a 'right'
Ian Bennett, Zimbabwe

It's undoubtedly an infringement on your privacy, but snooping on your personal communications is sadly a part of everyday life these days. All e-mails travelling through the US are already scanned by the NASA, and all international phone calls monitored by GCHQ as part of the Echelon system. The trend towards office email monitoring comes more from a desire to prevent damaging litigation, as companies in the UK can be sued if they allow offensive content on their networks. The way around it is simply to encrypt your messages, a method that is both free and widely available.
Paul R, UK

On your own time you should be able to surf and write email in your own account (Yahoo, Go To, FT Network etc.) It's easy to find out who is abusing the rules, just look at the time. It should well documented in company S.O.P. it you look at porn on the company computers you are out the gate, no ifs or buts about it!
Eddie, USA



I have to be careful my thoughts don't stray from company objectives, but sometimes I just can't help it.

David, England
The company wouldn't let me sign the contract without having the chip fitted beforehand. Sometimes I look out of the office window to rest my eyes, I discovered that this is tolerated so long as it doesn't last longer than 7 seconds. I have to be careful my thoughts don't stray from company objectives, but sometimes I just can't help it. The correctional pains from the chip help ensure I maintain optimal productivity. Last week the worker on the next desk spoke to me about something called "trees", I didn't understand it. That worker is gone now, I don't know where.
David, England

I use hotmail but as long as I get to screen emails of the people who are allowed to screen my emails then I'm for screening emails at work. I've been a victim of degrading remarks through email. But unlike an eye to eye verbal assault, it's much easier to defend oneself through email by analysing the message very slowly with a few people at your side.
Zbigniew, Poland (now in USA)



The internet is one of the few remaining mediums where freedom of speech still exists.

Kris Dye, UK
I would certainly agree that all e-mails should be virus checked. However I do not by any means agree that e-mails should been screened for gratuitous content as the internet is one of the few remaining mediums where freedom of speech still exists.
Kris Dye, UK

I'm just moving to a new job. In the terms and conditions, the employer clearly states that I have no right to expect privacy in my email or web browsing. So it's clear and open - and entirely fair. If I want to send or receive stuff that's inappropriate for work, that's what home email accounts are for
Alan, UK

I would certainly agree after what's just happened at my firm. We have just been hit by the "I love you" virus and had to shut down our exchange server. I understand that it has hit firms all over London. If regular screening of emails was present this may have been avoided.
Chris Pritchard, England

It's incredibly small-minded to spend time and money monitoring people's emails and web usage at work. People should be positively and actively encouraged to use the 'net for email and surfing. If you don't you are simply restricting your employee's growth. Taking the view people are simply in an office to work is blinkered and reduces what they can offer to their workplace.
Roland Dunn, UK

Most people seem to have missed the point. Employers are simply acting on legislation which states that they (the employers) may be liable to pay compensation to any person/ company who receive offensive, libellous or malicious email from one of their employees. I think that if I was in the same situation, I would take every step to ensure that my employees didn't put me in this position - wouldn't you?
Steven, Scotland



I would certainly agree after what's just happened at my firm. We have just been hit by the "I love you" virus and had to shut down our exchange server. I understand that it has hit firms all over London. If regular screening of emails was present this may have been avoided.

Chris Pritchard, England
I found out yesterday that there is a new system on the computer network at my college. It allows those with access (i.e. technicians) to view the screen of any computer in the college. This means that any emails sent can be seen by these people. Students believe that their email is private, but it obviously no longer is. I feel that this is an infringement of our right to privacy.
James Taylor, Nottingham, UK

If you treat people like children for long enough then eventually many of them will become just that!
Dan Peters, UK

Don't worry about your company monitoring your emails because your government is going to do it for them.
David Rawlins, UK

Knowledge is power. I guess restricting people's ability to communicate is the best way to retain power. Keep 'em ignorant eh? Be silent, consume, die.
Hilton Grayson, UK

This debate is academic. When 3rd generation mobile phones take off and everyone can received personal emails on his/her phone then who cares what employers do?
Sukhwant Singh Atwal, Germany



In India people don't have enough to eat, and in China they get shot for saying the wrong thing, but the spoilt brats on this page are whining about not having the freedom to abuse someone else's email system! What deprivation!

Alex Chiang, Australia
It's not rocket science. If you don't like your email being read or scanned by your company and everyone else in-between you and your interlocutor then render it unreadable. There's plenty of reliable and free tools out there, such as PGP, which will do it easily.
Nick, UK

In India people don't have enough to eat, and in China they get shot for saying the wrong thing, but the spoilt brats on this page are whining about not having the freedom to abuse someone else's email system! What deprivation!
Alex Chiang, Australia

It's not the email text that is so much the bad thing, it's the silly attachments. Any number of things get onto a system and cause disruption and when you work in IT that's the last thing you want. Spending an extra four hours in work because someone was sent a pornographic mpeg that crashed the mail server isn't productive in any way.
Ben, England



At the end of the day you are there to work within your company guidelines and not abuse the system.

Mark Deamer, UK
Monitoring of emails to a degree is ok at work. At the end of the day you are there to work within your company guidelines and not abuse the system. If you abuse the system your company has a right to know. Get a private email account if you want to send jokes or have fun!
Mark Deamer, UK

E-mail should not be read without permission. If a company has recorded that a staff member is sending a high volume of e-mail and suspects that that user is mis-using company resources then it should alert that user to the fact that this has not gone unnoticed. If the company wishes to view the contents of a staff member's e-mail, it should ensure that the staff member is present at the viewing.
Alex, Scotland

As an IT professional, the monitoring of emails would be deemed essential in today's world of corporate espionage and litigation's. Not only could your employees be sending insulting emails the amount of junk mail is on the increase. If you really want to keep your emails personal then I suggest people use PGP encryption to keep out prying eyes...
Dorian Creber, Wales



I think that the screening of email at work isn't a shocking intrusion into ones personal affairs

Maz, UK
I think that the screening of email at work isn't a shocking intrusion into ones personal affairs. I see no distinction between email and snail mail and would not complain about the systematic monitoring of our post? It is the place of an employer to police the personal lives of its employees.
The medium through which people choose to express their socially unacceptable views is irrelevant. At least email is (supposed to be) personal. I could post any amount of offensive nonsense on my website, then register it with a search engine with the words "Brittany Spears" and get several million people to read it. Why get so tense of the fact that I might swear in an email to my mate, or that my Aussie mate sends me a dodgy joke? Get a grip!
Maz, UK

No of course they should not. If there really is a legal problem here, then the law should be changed. However I find it hard to believe that such a problem really exists: Has BT ever been sued for allowing obscene phone calls over its network?
It seems more likely that this is simply an excuse to monitor what employees are doing with their time, but surely it is the job of managers to realise when the people they are in charge of are not being productive. Why do they need to monitor e-mails to do this rather than simply measure output? People should be allowed to use the e-mail at work so long as it does not interfere with their work; it is not as though it costs their company (unlike, for example, personal use of photocopiers).
John, England



Monitoring e-mail or telephone calls is an invasion of privacy and a breach of human rights under EU human rights law.

Phil Saum, UK
Monitoring e-mail or telephone calls is an invasion of privacy and a breach of human rights under EU human rights law. When employers pay their workers a salary, they don't buy their entire lives whilst they are at work. Provided an employee works to an agreed standard, the company has no moral or legal right to invade their privacy. The puritans on this message board would do well to remember that.
Phil Saum, UK

Where will it end? Personal emails at work are often a short break from the tedium. Looking out the window or sitting doodling are examples that fall into the non-productive category but nobody actually works continuously all day. Sexism and racism are being taken to crazy extremes. Will it be politically wrong in the future to call someone big nose or baldy?
David Procter, Finland

It is both bad and straight ridiculous idea. It is like giving the whole hand of freedom of expression to devil in one go. Internet and internet communication has to remain a bastion of freedom of any expression. The companies have internal rules how to control business correspondence and that is enough.
Mikko Toivonen, Finland

Screening of e-mails is a ridiculous thing to do, and as for the argument that you shouldn't be using e-mail for personal business - that is nonsense. Companies would not dream of telling staff they could never make a personal phone call, and they certainly would not dare to suggest that personal phone calls would be listened in to. Any such idea would soon be quashed once the first court case for intrusion of privacy was won by an employee.
Daniel, England



It's not like companies are doing this behind closed doors: they're open about their policies. If you have a problem with it, don't use their system for personal email.

Malc, London, Ontario, Canada
Throughout most of the comments, the point of individual freedom is raised yet few address the issue of why you're at a place of employment. I see my staff take up to 45 minutes in the morning to rehash TV shows what they did last night, etc. Telephone calls are sometimes long personal chats and personal faxes are a part of ongoing abuse. You don't like email monitoring? Then don't abuse it!!
Michael J Sullivan, Canada

It's not like companies are doing this behind closed doors: they're open about their policies. If you have a problem with it, don't use their system for personal email. Besides, with services such as Yahoo Mail or BT's Talk21 there really is no need to have any personal stuff come to work. Abuse of the email system has always been a sackable offence everywhere I've worked. However, I've had responsible employers and they have been happy for us to send each other jokes and arrange personal meetings (lunch, etc).
Malc, London, Ontario, Canada

I agree with Stuart from London. Human beings are not utensils, here solely for the purpose of making money. Your employer does not own you, they pay you for a stake in your time. That's it. If you wish to e-mail a friend at lunchtime, why is that a problem? Even if you send e-mail during work hours, there shouldn't be a problem as long as the work gets done, and in most cases it does. All this paranoia about racist e-mails, sexist e-mails, isn't it all a little bit pathetic? How far do we want this to go, I mean, how long will it be before employers are dictating how long you should spend in the toilet? I often have to work extra hours without over-time and little thanks, so I think the company can spare a couple of minutes and a small fraction of bandwidth for me to e-mail a friend or check my on-line bank statement.
Carl, Manchester, UK

According to an article in the Computer Weekly magazine, under current UK law, any monitoring of e-mails without the employee being informed, IN WRITING, is an offence under the Data Protection Act. It is NOT sufficient for the company to put in a corporate handbook that e-mails may be monitored, each employee has to be notified personally in writing, and acknowledge receipt of this warning. The only exception to this is where a criminal investigation is being carried out on the employee which may lead to legal proceedings. Having said that, it is for the employee to determine whether their use of the facility is reasonable, and to act as their own censor.
Keith H, UK



Honesty and modesty should always rule at work (and in our private lives). If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear.

Morgan K., UK
Why stop at emails? Why not scrutinise every memo, document, scribbled note, phone call and conversation in the loo? Soon it will be a thought-crime to 'think differently' and this is a small step away from just being different. Individuality will be a crime too. and we are led to believe we live in a free society. What a joke. Where did this idea of scrutiny come from anyway? The KGB?
JS, UK

Emails should be scanned at work. The system, the equipment and your time is the property of the employer. They should have the right to protect their investment. If you had a contractor in your house wouldn't you get a little angry if they started to raid your fridge and watch your TV when they should be fixing your roof? However, I do believe that the employer should approach the employee and give them the benefit of the doubt. Allow them to explain if this was an accident, family emergency or unsolicited. If you want privacy on email get a home account!
Carl, USA

My employer promotes free internet use and doesn't scan e-mails. I do think people are old enough and wise enough to make there own decisions on what they send and read. If you find something offensive or someone is sending stuff to you that you don't want, then block the user or just delete it. Who monitors the IT guys? No one. If you are worried that you might be scanned create a web based e-mail account like hotmail.
IT Administrator, Germany

Honesty and modesty should always rule at work (and in our private lives). If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear.
Morgan K., UK



The only correct way to handle these problems is through dialogue and example, not spying and suppression.

Andy, Switzerland
In my opinion it is principally acceptable for companies to monitor the e-mails of employees, because they have the right to know what employees are doing on company time. I do, however, think this type of screening is pointless and counterproductive. Firstly, it shows that employers have no trust in their employees. Secondly, employees who feel harassed by the 'Big Brother' attitude of employers will not feel happy in the company, and the quality of their work will suffer. I know this from personal observation. Thirdly, many employees who do not take their employers policies seriously will abuse this scheme by using certain keywords in ALL communications, so flooding the screeners with work and forcing them to abandon the project. The only real losers will be the companies themselves. The only correct way to handle these problems is through dialogue and example, not spying and suppression.
Andy, Switzerland

My personal opinion on this subject is that using 'scanning' software to look for sexist, offensive or racist language is not the right thing to do. First of all it is invading of privacy, although you are supposed to use E-mail for business purposes. We all know how many personal E-mails you get once your mail address is known. If all companies start doing this the 'Big Brother is watching you' syndrome will appear again and will result in a mass scare. Everybody will be afraid he/she may say something which might be interpreted as sexist, offensive or racist even when it is just meant as a joke between friends.
T. Hendriks, The Netherlands

I think email should be screened. People often receive virus and porn which they are not aware of. The virus can spread like wildfire and some people do not enjoy receiving offensive mail! Yes I think its acceptable as PERSONAL MAIL should remain just that and should be sent to a different account. The exchange servers are maintained on company expense and should not be abused!
Nadia, South Africa



Any steps taken to restrict or censor emails will limit their effectiveness as a means for genuine communication.

Duncan Lambe, Spain
Any steps taken to restrict or censor emails will limit their effectiveness as a means for genuine communication. Words in isolation mean little when compared to the intent, and context, behind them and I find it difficult to see how any guidelines that measure this can work. Policy statements that make it clear to employees that they have to use email responsibly are fine. Censorship is not. If an individual has a genuine case then thy can print off the email that caused offence and claim compensation from the person who sent it. Why should it be the company that pays, anyway?
Duncan Lambe, Spain

If you receive mail in an envelope at work, the employer has no right to look at it. This should be the same with electronic mail, especially when received from outside of the workplace. If an employee receives a malicious message from a fellow employee they should report it and appropriate action should be taken.
Chris, England

I find it hard to see that an email could be deemed so distressing it would warrant a £50,000 pay out. I also find it disturbing that my privacy is being compromised by the need to enforce yet another crackpot notion dreamed up by the wet, the inadequate and the money-grabbing.
John B, UK



I think that emails should be scanned because people could be misusing company equipment which can often be a sackable offence.

Suzey, UK
I think that emails should be scanned because people could be misusing company equipment which can often be a sackable offence. In my old company they scanned two girls' accounts and found some really racist stuff. Also one girl used the system to apply for jobs for her boyfriend and sometimes used the fax machine. She knew it was wrong as well - she would dispose of the evidence as best she could. Also, if people are using their work e-mail accounts to receive porn, this is definitely unacceptable and those people should be weeded out.
Suzey, UK

I think that any monitoring of emails should be illegal just as it should be illegal to monitor phone calls and ordinary mail. Even the police monitoring of the above is an infringement of privacy. We are slowly but surely moving towards a system of Big Brother watching over you. The only two cases where this is not the case is when preventing racism and when protecting children.
Sumeet Bellara, UK

If you want to make emails with a private and personal content then you should do so at your own risk or in your own home. If you do choose to use emails at work, they should be for work. The firm should have every right to monitor and control employees emails in any way that they see fit.
Dan Southern, UK

Scanning emails would be the thin edge of a sizeable wedge. If someone is receiving offensive emails then the same system should be used that deals with, say, so-called poison-pen letters. To start monitoring emails smacks of big-brother at is most sinister.
Andy Labrow, UK



Of course this is an infringement of our civil liberties. The nightmare scenario of Orwell's 1984 is fast becoming a reality.

Stuart, London
Of course this is an infringement of our civil liberties. The nightmare scenario of Orwell's 1984 is fast becoming a reality. Everywhere we go there are CCTV cameras monitoring our every movement. The police have the power to force you to give DNA samples if you are arrested, even if you have not broken the law. And now companies may soon have the right to read your personal email and listen to our personal calls. The whole nature of the global capitalist system is about human beings as mindless automatons who can be controlled and oppressed. This is one of the many reasons why people are taking to the streets in protest.
Stuart, London, UK

On the grounds of strong suspicions companies should reserve their right to screen employee mail and use their discretion. Prior to doing this they should advise employee of their action and their reasons for so doing. I have based this on the cautious grounds "nothing to hide, nothing to fear" Prior notification is a must
Gita Fox, UK

I can't answer this as all outgoing emails from work are read!
Clive Grinyer, UK

An email service provided by an employer is for business purposes. If you are using for personal reasons then you have no excuse to complain about 'snooping' by authorised personnel on the content of messages in the system. If you want to have a personal email system that you can access at work then use one of the freely available webmail systems such as Hotmail. You should also restrict your access to your lunch hour or other non-business hours.
Michael Bird, UK

If you are using your employer's email facility then you have a responsibility to use it correctly. Anything that makes people think twice before sending out mail must be good. Most employers accept a certain amount of private use, but abuse could well lead to that facility being withdrawn to the detriment of the majority. In any case I get enough rubbish via email without receiving offensive rubbish as well.
James, England

I think that "joke" emails are a great way to relax at work. People are taking things over the top and we aren't even allowed to "have a laugh" anymore - ridiculous
Lauren, UK



It does not do the work force any harm to send/receive a few jokes each day.

Michelle, UK
Surely managers have got more valuable things to do than reprimand employees regarding their language in their e-mails. I understand and agree that racist and sexist language should be stamped out but scanning e-mails has surely got more to do with employers ensuring that the e-mail system at work is not abused. In this case I think that it does not do the work force any harm to send/receive a few jokes each day.
Michelle, UK



Anyone not brave enough to say something publicly should consider whether to say it at all.

Ste Hick, UK
Hmmmm, I wonder if this e-mail is being screened? I think it perfectly justifiable that whilst using company equipment, on company time that your employer may screen your e-mail. For one any external mail sent would have the company's signature and they certainly have the right to know what is being sent in their name, secondly anyone thinking of using office e-mail for private purposes should be aware that their company may know they are doing so.
I for one would not take time at work to write a personal letter to a boyfriend or anyone, so why should employers put up with time wasters that the rest of us have to carry? (I'm on lunch at the moment so I'm OK!) anyone not brave enough to say something publicly should consider whether to say it at all, or use a web based e-mail.
Ste Hick, UK

Don't trust anything at work - even if there is a policy that won't allow people to read your emails, the technology is still there. Open up a freemail account as a workaround. As a company firewall administrator, I would also advise only surfing for business at work. Get internet access in at home if you want to go somewhere considered by your employer to be non-business. It's not worth the risk, especially if your company is highly political and there's people who want to see you burn....
AL - Firewall/Security Admin, Germany

No, Companies don't monitor faxes and other hard copy correspondence.
Mario, UK

The reality of the situation is that those targeted by this pathetic snooping won't be higher management, despite the fact that in my experience the higher up the ladder of authority you go, the more unpleasant and fascistic the views.
Colin Houlson, UK

If you want to make e-mails with a private and personal content then you should do so at your own risk or in your own home. If you do choose to use E-mails at work, they should be for work. The firm should have every right to monitor and control employees E-mails in any way that they see fit.
Dan Southern, UK



My company has just sent out a warning that internet use is for company matters only. What a cheek!

John Glasgow
My company has just sent out a warning that internet use is for company matters only. What a cheek! The company is happy for me to work extra for no pay and the air-conditioning in the office is appalling. The company can't be bothered to do anything about it. Things work both ways. If a company doesn't like employees sending out an occasional e-mail they should pay and give reasonable working conditions by the book as well.
John Glasgow

An email service provided by an employer is for business purposes. If you are using for personal reasons then you have no excuse to complain about 'snooping' by authorised personnel on the content of messages in the system.
If you want to have a personal email system that you can access at work then use one of the freely available webmail systems such as Hotmail. But you should restrict your access to your lunch hour or other non-business hours.
Michael Bird, UK

Sexism and racism are loathsome, but this is another over-reaction from our nanny-society in which the majority being spied upon to "protect" a minority from a minority.
Michael Bowe, UK

Anything that has is analysed by a piece of machinery is subject to making wrong (and costly) decisions. Offensive e-mails should be monitored, but not at the expense of innocent parties, who may simply be "bystanders".
Chris Russell, England

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