E- Mail Disclaimers and Privacy
I've wondered for some time about the ethics of e- mail and related privacy issues. I got to thinking about it again when the so- called disclaimer in the Arkley apology e-mail was brought to light.
I'm just guessing, but I would assume that disclaimer is the signature on the bottom of most, if not every, e- mail sent out by Security National, Rob Arkley's e- mails having been fed to the press by various recipients before, but does that disclaimer really have any weight?
The first paragraph seems to be an attempt to guard against someone releasing said e- mail to anyone not intended as the recipient. I suppose that might have some weight if someone who the e-mail wasn't intended for came across it and pretty much stole the e-mail.
Let's say someone was playing around with someone's computer, found some strange e-mail, and sent it to the press. I'd say that would certainly be grounds for civil action, if not criminal action, disclaimer included on the e-mail or not.
But what if someone sends an e-mail that is unsolicited? Let's assume Larry Glass wasn't on the Eureka City Council (e-mails going to city hall becoming public property)? If he was just owner of The Works and had the same beef with Arkley, and Arkley sent him an apology via e-mail, would Glass be obliged to keep the contents of the e- mail from the press as per the disclaimer?
I should think not, as Glass did not ask for the e-mail to be sent to him. It seems out of bounds to me that anybody should send someone an e-mail and insist the contents remain private.
Sure, it might be rude to publicly release e-mails but, absent an existing agreement between the parties involved, I don't see how anyone can insist that someone not divulge the contents of an e-mail they sent unrequested.
I figure e-mails from mailing lists that are open to the general public are fair game for release. I've passed a few of those around in my time. If someone is sending out mass e-mailings to pretty much anyone, I figure that makes it safe to assume it's ok to pass them out to others.
Didn't Salzman, or someone, start issuing some disclaimer to their e-mail lists a while back to try and keep list e-mail from being released?
Unsoliticited e-mails, regardless of the contents are still a gray area with me. If someone personally sends me something that might not be the kind of thing that the person would want made public, I figure it's only fair to keep it to myself, although by sending an e-mail everyone needs to realize there's the possibility not all recipients might feel the same way I do.
Sometimes I think it's more than fair to release certain e-mails. Back on September 4, 2005 I made a post here about some somewhat threatening e-mails I received as a result of some posts I made on the Redwood Peace and Justice Center e-mail lists.
That was mostly in regards our very own (I think), Al Baston. He didn't like a libertarian reaching out to his lefty friends on common interests via that e-mail list so kinda threatened me to stop using the list.
I've kept sometimes hostile e-mail sent by others to myself before, but I felt his were over the top, especially for someone on the Redwood PEACE and Justice Center e-mail list.
So, not only did I blog about e-mail terrorists, I sent an e-mail over the RPJC discuss e-mail list with Al Baston's e-mails accompanying it and suggested if others had a problem with me posting to that list, they should take it up with the RPJC leadership and perhaps have me removed from the list. I'm still on that list.
Certainly Al Baston's letters to me were fair game for public exposure. Just where to draw the line, I don't know. But I think these disclaimers like Rob Arkley had in his apology letter are likely of dubious legal value.
Anybody out there think all e-mail should be public property, or all e-mail should remain private?