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Warn everyone on staff: E-mail isn’t ‘private’

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in Human Resources

Are you looking for a way to discourage employees from using the company e-mail system to send personal messages and curtail circulation of potentially harassing or discriminatory communication? Then tell them about the following case.

Recent case:
Henry T. Nicholas III, the embattled co-founder of Broadcom, has learned that personal e-mails sent via a company laptop aren’t safe from prosecutors.

A federal judge has ruled that Nicholas’ e-mails can be used as evidence in the criminal trial over an alleged $2.2 billion backdating scheme prosecutors say he set up.

The e-mails had been sent back in 2002 from Nicholas to his then wife. They described his drug use and how it had damaged the company. Nicholas wrote the personal e-mail on a company laptop. (U.S. v. Henry T. Nicholas III, No. 08-00139CD CA, 2008)

Final note:
There’s little that’s personal about e-mail sent through company-owned equipment.

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