Email Privacy for Government EmployeesResource Government
June 20, 2013 — 1,461 views
While there is no doubt that the Internet has been a boon to industries and businesses all over the world, it does come with its own set of drawbacks. The concern of email privacy and what should be considered public records has cropped up time and time again, in a number of high profile disputes. As a result, it helps to know exactly what the employee and employer rights are pertaining to the issue.
Employee Email Rights
Despite the point that employee email rights are constantly in a state of flux, the fact of the matter is that no electronic email is absolutely safe. Whether you send it from your personal email ID or from your company listed email ID, there is always the chance that somebody could intercept some piece of communication that you thought was private, and it could end up as public record. Your superiors and supervisors can legally monitor email correspondence from work and so you should make it a point to avoid using it for personal discussion. While there are some states that protect employees from random searches and interception of their electronic correspondence, only California extends that right of privacy to private sector employees.
Privacy Concerns for Government Employees
Government employees are more protected by the laws against intercepting and reviewing private email. Privacy laws in eight states including Texas have seen constitutional protection be afforded to government employees. Even then, the courts state that if the only way of proving some very serious government laws have been breached is through email interception, it is authorized and can be used in a court of law as incriminating evidence and public record.
The laws do not protect employees against any kind of disciplinary action as a result of excessive use of email for personal reasons. Although many employers are hardly going to be concerned with you sending a few emails out of your work account, handling all of your personal e-correspondence through your work affiliated email account will see you get in trouble. You will get into trouble especially if your superior is convinced that your personal correspondence is getting in the way of your effectiveness at work.
How Government Employees Should Keep the Emails Private
While one of the most obvious ways of staying out of trouble is to make sure that you never use your work account for personal reasons, privacy of your account is not necessarily maintained at all times. Employers are allowed to review all correspondence that runs through your work account if they have their own company system framework for sending and receiving emails. When sending emails through the Internet, the only way to ensure privacy is through high-level encryption methods that require the recipient to enter a digital key to read the message. There are a number of good encryption tools on the Internet for this purpose.
As with any privacy in communication, there is always a way in which your message can be intercepted. The more high profile you are, the more likely there is someone looking to make your private messages some kind of public record. Additionally, given the fact that businesses have every right to keep an eye on digital communication that goes out of an email account which technically represents the brand, there is always a chance your emails will get reviewed from time to time. The best way to ensure that privacy is maintained is to encrypt the messages from your own, personal email account.