December 30, 2010

Confidentiality of e-mail

Confidentiality of e-mail
Footnotes on E-mails

In recent years numerous requests and warnings have been included at the foot of e-mails such as “Please let us know if you are not the intended receiver of this e-mail” or “CONFIDENTIAL – this is privileged correspondence – please destroy if you are not the individual for whom it is intended,” etc.

The latest in what is fast becoming an avalanche of warnings is the following caution appearing at the bottom of an e-mail received from a North Carolina governmental agency:

All email correspondence to and from this address is subject to the North Carolina Public Records Law, which may result in monitoring and disclosure to third parties, including law enforcement.

The Circuit Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, has considered one aspect of disclosing electronic records such as e-mail.

In Pritchard, et al v County of Erie and others, 546 F.3d 222, the Second Circuit considered the question of the ability of a litigant to demand discover of a public employer’s electronic records in the course of federal litigation. In this instance, the Circuit Court held that e-mails between a government attorney and Erie County officials were protected by attorney-client privilege.

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