It is wrong for a Manager, Supervisor or the even CEO of a company to view anyone’s email but their own.
The big problem however is that it is very legal for them to do it when ever, how ever and for what ever reason they like.
Right this second there will be thousands of employees around the world who’s email is currently being viewed with out their knowledge.
You may not know this but you are not the only one who has access to your mailbox at work. Anyone who has System Administrator privileges on your network will have the ability to access, view, delete or even scarier respond to your email without your knowledge. They also have the ability to grant other people access to your mailbox.
How do I know this? I’m a System Administrator myself.
In my role as a System Administrator I will receive multiple requests per week for Managers to access their employee’s mailboxes and almost without exception, this access is to be granted without the employee knowing anything about it.
Every time I am forced to do this it sickens me as I see it as a violation of the trust those people put in me to protect their privacy.
There are policies that cover this sort of thing on both my client’s side and my side that usually say something along the lines of no one shall have access to anyone else’s mailbox unless under direct authority of the CEO or other authority of the company. The fact still remains that if that CEO or other authority so wishes, they can view anyone’s email on a whim and read anything they like.
The justification for this is that the company owns the email system and therefore can look at what ever they like. To this I say, does not the company also own the phone system? Imagine the outcry if it were discovered that Managers were tapping their employee’s phones and listening to everything they said. How is this different from email?
What can you do about it?
Not much let me tell you. There is one thing that may tip you off to the fact that someone has been accessing your mailbox however.
If someone is reading your email and opens one that you have not yet read yourself, it will be displayed as read when you go in to check your mail. So if you see one that it read but you know you did not read it, then something might be up.
Secondly, you could try asking your System Administrator. I know I would love to advise someone when I have given someone else access to their mailbox but it is too risky for me to do that. Obviously I can’t let them know via email and the phone is risky as someone may over hear it.
The third way you can protect your email privacy is to only use your work email for work email. Set yourself up a Hotmail account. Even your System Administrator can’t get into that one and no one but you will be able to read it. The only draw back with this is that you will have to be continually going to http://www.hotmail.com from your computer and since ALL your web surfing is also logged, your Manager may have issue with you spending so much time on the internet. Some companies will even make it impossible for people to get to the hotmail web site.
Another great way to protect your privacy is to get an Instant Messenger program like MSN or ICQ. I would recommend ICQ as you do not have to install anything on your computer, just run the web version and you don’t have to worry about firewalls etc… If you go to http://go.icq.com you can set up an ICQ account and start messaging anyone else who has it. The great thing about Instant messengers is that they do not keep a copy of the messages anywhere so no one can view what you have written. The fact that you are st the web site http://go.icq.com will be logged but none of your messages will be.