Confidentiality Notice

For the life of me I cannot understand the silly confidentiality notices some people/companies put at the bottom of their emails.

First off, you’re sending that HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL email in plain text (unencrypted) over an open network (the internet). It isn’t confidential anymore!

When they post emails to a public discussion group, they leave the notice on. If it’s CONFIDENTIAL, why did they just send it to thousands of people* they’ve never met and cannot trust?

I realize that they may, at times, send a sensitive email, but come on… only attached the notice to those emails and look into using PGP or secure IM if it’s really HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL.


* Obvious hyperbole for emphasis, except in the case of very large email lists 😉

Confidentiality Notice: Information contained in this post is HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL. It is intended for the exclusive use of the reader. If you are not the intended reader, please be advised that you have read this post in error and that any use, dissemination, forwarding, printing, or copying of this document is strictly prohibited. If you have received this post in error, a ninja will be along shortly to decapitate you. Have a nice day.

UPDATE: Here’s a site with lots of information about why you and/or your company should have an email disclAimer. It’s all about shifting liability to others in court. One of the examples they give- adding a disclaimer that the recipient is responsible to scan incoming messages for viruses and the sender is not liable in the case of a virus infection is simply ludicrous. First, I’d have to open the email to read your disclaimer (in most cases being infected). Secondly, that’s like putting a disclaimer on a bullet saying the recipient is responsible to dodge the bullet if they don’t want to be shot. If I lived in a society where bullets flew around like viruses do today, I’d probably wear a bullet-proof vest, but the shooter is still liable for shooting me whether I wear one or not.

Sadly, this silliness seems to be another byproduct of our overly litigious society. However, disclaimers aren’t the solution- education and responsibility are.

5 Responses to “Confidentiality Notice”

  • jen Says:

    I actually see these footers on e-mails so infrequently, that when I have seen them, I have presumed the they were a joke and actually read them. I still think they are amusing. Probably the novelty…it does not take much to amuse me (hence the custom T-shirt novelty).

  • frugalpole Says:

    well on g’s email the same things happens. she can’t turn it off. they put it on there just b/c… almost like in case.

  • Tim Says:

    I too have not seen much of this… but I see your point and wonder why they were ever considered good practice in the first place.
    The dodging bullets idea is pretty amusing. Perhaps you could take your rant and make it a vid/short that would be entertaining 😉
    Perhaps we can get Paulraj to do something for the in house issues that would be memorable…

  • Cys Says:

    I sent an email to a person who then took the email and posted it on a forum on the web. I was never told this was done, nor that communicating with that individual that he felt he had the right to do this – it has been a tough ride getting the message removed. The more attention given to the issue, the more everyone wants to read it. nothing I said in the message would make me look bad, no sex, no real personal info – but it felt like a betrayal. So….now I am a fan of some sort of disclosure to protect from idiots.

  • Nick Says:

    Do you really think a disclaimer would have stopped the “idot” from posting it?

    Myself, I doubt it.

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