Email snooping: 'I was asked to snoop on email as a way of curbing union activity...'

And other revelations...

And other revelations...

The issue of email snooping is back in the news and we've been inundated with your stories and comments about this controversial subject. While some people deny it goes on, others insist it is endemic - but perhaps the most shocking example of corporate abuse of snooping privileges is this first example from one anonymous reader... "I was asked to snoop on email as a way of curbing union activity..."
From Anon In a previous role as a head of IT, I was asked to snoop on email as a way of curbing union activity. I was asked to provide copy messages from and to certain individuals to their head of department. The whole company was run on a basis of mistrust and micro management. I left when it all got too much. "On one occasion we ended up involving the local police..."
From Stuart Riches We permit occasional personal use of email and internet access so long as it does not affect an employee's ability to undertake their role, or our ability to offer a reliable service. We make use of email and internet monitoring software on all in-coming and out-going emails and web traffic, and reserve the right to review any mailbox or mail at any time (with the exception of any mail sent between a Union Steward and their Union). We have probably only made use of this once or twice in the past two years. On one occasion we ended up involving the local police, due to allegations that obscene emails were being sent by an employee to an external address. In reality we don't care if they want to sort out their finances online, or book a holiday, or buy the latest CD from Amazon. We don't have time to read employees emails, we are lucky if we can get through our own emails - especially after a day out of the office. However if we thought that there was abuse going on, then we would have no hesitation in checking email folders/web usage logs. My response to those people who have been fired for sending inappropriate emails is that you probably deserved to be fired for gross stupidity. There have been enough high-profile cases to ensure that no one can be under any illusion as to the potential consequences. At the end of the day it's a company system, for company use - if you don't want someone to have the right to review what personal emails you have sent, don't send them from the company system... "He'd stumbled across a quite graphic series of emails describing her experiments in lesbianism with a friend"
From Anon In my last job the IT manager called all his techies one by one very secretly into the server room and they all came out again stifling giggles. When it was my turn I found out that the cause of the amusement was the mailbox of a member of staff who'd just left. [The IT manager} had been going through her mailbox before deleting her account to forward any important mail. He'd stumbled across a quite graphic series of emails describing her experiments in lesbianism with a friend. We never saw the member of staff again as she had been in the UK on a working holiday visa and had gone back home, but it would have been interesting to see everyone's reaction if they had bumped into her again! I have to say though that this is the only occasion in ten years in IT that anything like this has ever happened. In general IT staff take their responsibilities regarding privacy very seriously and do not 'snoop' for the sake of it. In fact often the IT staff act to defend staff rights against over-zealous managers and HR staff who want to go on a trawling exercise looking for dirt on someone. "Our Sales director emailed the entire company an attachment containing the next year's salaries..."
From Rosie Fletcher One instance springs to mind, when our sales director emailed the entire company an attachment containing the next year's salaries for the entire department, including his own. Lots of work clearing this from mailboxes, initially this was to include a witch-hunt of those who had read the mail but this was deemed 'impossible' by my fair-minded boss. Keep your feedback coming in by emailing editorial@silicon.com