Monday, November 24, 2008

Confidential email

I often see blocks of text at the bottom of emails such as the following:
This e-mail and any attachments are confidential and may be subject to legal or some other professional privilege. They are intended solely for the attention and use of the named addressee(s). If you are not the named addressee(s) you must not use, disclose, retain or reproduce all or any part of the information contained in this e-mail or any attachments. Any unauthorized use or disclosure may be unlawful. If you have received this e-mail by mistake, please inform the sender immediately and delete it and all copies from your system and destroy any hard copies of it.

This makes me wonder: If you *do* accidentally transmit my confidential information to the wrong party, can I sue you for gross negligence? You are knowingly transmitting confidential information across an insecure network and hoping that a little block of text at the footer of the email is going to relieve you of any responsibility if it falls into the wrong hands?

Suggesting it "may be unlawful" for me to retransmit the stuff you sent me is especially egregious.

Even worse is when I see morons post to public mailing lists with such text at the bottom of their emails. After all, a Gmail or Yahoo account is *so* expensive.

P.S. - for the record, the above example email text was taken from such an email posted to a public forum, and any assertion of copyright would be countered with a textbook example of fair use doctrine.