The Privacy Of E Mail Essay

1322 words - 5 pages

The Privacy of E-Mail

Today the Internet is being used more and more frequently, and the question of e-mail privacy is becoming more and more of an issue in society. Many people today, both at work and at home, are using e-mail to keep in touch with their friends, family, and their co-workers. Sometimes the information that is contained in these messages is private and confidential, neither the sender nor the receiver wish any one else to be privy to what is contained in these messages. What happens if that very private piece of mail is intercepted and read by those whom it is not meant for? For some people it might only be a slight problem, but for others it could cause some serious problems. It also brings up the issue of who actually has the right to read e-mail. Is it acceptable for someone's boss or employer to be reading e-mail that is not meant for them, and is it acceptable for the police to read the private e-mail of those whom they suspect have been involved a crime? There are dozens questions that arise when a person is discussing the issue of e-mail privacy and just who has the right to read what some one else has sent to a person, something that might contain a message that they do not want read by anyone else.

In 1986 the Electronic Communications Privacy Act was put into effect by Congress, this act was designed to protect the users of e-mail from having to worry about others reading what they consider to be a private message. In basic terms the act states that e-mail is not to be intercepted by an outside third party without the proper authorization. It also states that the police are not able to search and seize a persons e-mail unless they are in the possesion of a warrant authorizing them to do so. While this law has many good intentions it does have a few flaws, for instance, it never says how this will be enforced, or how a person will prove that the privacy of their e-mail has been invaded. It would be very difficult to prove that someone intercepted a message that was not meant for them and read it. Another problem that comes with this act is that it does not protect the person from having their e-mail read by an "inside source". An inside source would include, their boss or another member of the company that they are working for, so someone in that position could reasonably read their e-mail without having to worry about reprimands form the company. Courts have ruled that e-mail sent via an office system is only private if the sender has a "reasonable expectation" of privacy when they send it. Again this can be pretty vague about what a persons "reasonable expectation" of privacy for their e-mail means. What "reasonable expectation" means for one person may be very different for another, creating quite a problem in the company about what "reasonable expectation" is. Many companies now have policies for their employee e-mail that states that it is not a good idea for a person to send private e-mail through the...

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