Things to remember

about emails you send on the job.

Kent Antley
is with the law firm Miller & Martin, where he is a member of the Corporate, Commercial and Technology practice groups. He is also a co-founder of TAG, the largest technology membership organization in North America.

Aware Force: What's your reaction to the release of the Democrats' emails by hackers?

Aware Force: Are rules any different if an employee is using their personal email address on a company-owned computer?

Aware Force: What about archiving email?

Aware Force: Are emails you send on devices you own, like a smartphone, protected if the messages are sent during business hours?

Kent Antley: I'm not surprised. You see so many breachers of systems by companies that have the money and are spending it to protect their data, but they still get hacked. Many times hackers get sensitive information like passwords from employees, not from computer power or sheer brilliance. So how do you control people? (The DNC hack) is not a surprise to me. Many of us are used to the security inherent in paper copies, so email is a real challenge. 

Kent Antley: No. There's no difference if you use a personal email address or the company email address. We have the right to monitor communication if it's on equipment that's owned by the firm. 

Kent Antley: Archiving is important. Our litigators tell us to warn our clients (that they should be archiving emails.) And make sure they remember that hitting "delete" does not delete the emails. 

Kent Antley: Always use your own device if you're sending personal emails. We remind our employees about that once a year. We have it set up so an email automatically goes out once a year explaining our policy about emails and text messages. It states that, as employees, they will read the policy and abide by it. 

Aware Force: Does your firm retain the right to view employee emails?

Kent Antley: The answer is, yes we do. We have a 16-page written policy about employees' use of our IT system. If you use any part of our system, you understand that you don't have a right to privacy and your emails can be monitored or reviewed at any time. It's the firm's choice whether it makes any of these communications available to law enforcement (if that's an issue).

Aware Force: What's your advice to employees as they write emails?

Kent Antley: Definitely be aware of what you say. We're a law firm. Part of our 16-page policy indicates that all emails need to be written in a professional manner. We expect that content will not be defamatory or slanderous. (Emails) should not include content that is deemed harassing, offensive or obscene. (The policy) also covers text messages. Our policy says we should not use text messages...for any communication except something fairly non-substantative. 

Aware Force: What about the use of social media?

Kent Antley: We discourage it for any of our firm's activity. We warn our attorneys that they need to be very sensitive about the content. Our attorneys have to be aware that they could create an attorney/client relationship that they did not intend to. If they give an opinion that relates to a legal case, they need to make clear that it's an opinion.