How Private Is Your E-mail?
Every day, tens of millions of people use electronic mail to conduct business and to communicate with friends and family. But if you think your e-mail is private, guess again.
E-mail is no more private than a postcard. Unlike other forms of communication, such as telephone calls, which are protected in the United States under laws like the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 and by similar laws in other countries, e-mail has little similar protection. The situation becomes even murkier for messages sent or received at your place of business.For Your Eyes Only?
An electronic message typically makes numerous stops at computers along the route to its final destination. At each stop, it can be intercepted and read by snoops. Why would someone want to do this? For hackers, there's the challenge of eavesdropping in cyberspace; for business competitors, confidential data may have strategic value. After all, information is power.Where Has All the E-mail Gone?
Even after you've received a message and deleted it, the message doesn't vanish. Many Internet service providers and e-mail services archive e-mail for some period of time. These archives can be accessed and even subpoenaed in the event of an investigation or lawsuit. The same holds true for messages received at work. Although you hit the Delete key, the message still exists in the company system. Those inappropriate comments you wrote may come back to haunt you!