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Surveillance 2: Left in the outbox

Even a "love email" could lead to a law suit

For an employee, the consequences of inappropriate electronic behaviour can be swift and sudden. Just late last year, 23 workers at a New York Times administrative centre found out how hazardous email can be to your career. A slew of employees were reprimanded. The company wouldn't elaborate, but quoted its policy -- which prohibits using the corporate email system to "create, forward or display any offensive or disruptive messages, including photographs, graphics and audio materials".

Last October, 40 Xerox employees in the US were summarily dismissed for spending as much as eight hours a day browsing X-rated and e-shopping Web sites during work hours. At Pacific Bell in California, a manager was fired for viewing pornographic Web sites at work. And a routine check of corporate email turned up pornographic material at Salomon Smith Barney in 1998 -- the company fired two executives.

Even romantics aren't save. An AT&T employee received a formal reprimand for using the company email system to send love notes to his wife, also an AT&T employee.

Take me to the Surveillance 2 ZDNet News special.