Netiquette Banner Netiquette, by Virginia Shea, page 128

spends all his time writing long personal email messages, his manager will probably notice that he isn't getting his job done and do something about it.

A case study: Borland vs. Symantec

For those who are interested, here's a story about an employer-employee privacy conflict that made it into the papers:

About two years ago, Eugene Wang, a vice president at the software company Borland International, left for rival firm Symantec. After Wang left, former colleagues at Borland checked his MCI Mail account -- which Borland had paid for -- and discovered messages sent to Symantec while Wang was a Borland employee, containing what Borland said were trade secrets. Wang's response was that (1) Borland had no right to check his MCI Mail account and (2) they weren't trade secrets anyway. Borland claims a written policy that gave the organization the right to search company property for company information gave them the right to read the messages. Both Wang and Symantec president Gordon Eubanks were named in a lawsuit by Borland, still unresolved when Netiquette went to press.

When last heard from, Symantec had instituted an email policy forbidding employees to use company email for personal purposes. Borland still didn't have a specific email policy.

What to do about it

In general, Netiquette supports the existence of company email policies. A written policy can protect you from, for example, being fired because your boss was snooping on your email and read the derogatory note you wrote about him to your friend across the hall. (Yes, this has really happened.) And it lets everyone know the organization's expectations for how email should be used. However, company policies can also be unnecessarily restrictive.

If you're interested in helping your organization set up an email policy, you could contact the Electronic Messaging Association (EMA), which represents email suppliers and corporate users. The EMA sells "Access to and Use and Disclosure of Electronic Mail on Company Computer


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