The Importance of Email Disclaimers

CSO’s web site has a blog posting about an alleged accidental data leakage via a misdirected email from a lawyer to a news reporter. Nothing exceptional about that. It’s the sort of cock-up that happens from time to time. But what’s particularly interesting about this story is that the journalist didn’t report the content of the email.

Now there can be many reasons why reporters hold back information. The content might not be interesting enough. It might be counterproductive to compromise a potential useful source. But it might also be because the email disclaimer did its job. That last thought got me thinking about the value of email disclaimers.

The blog posting contains some useful comments from a lawyer. But the situation is never clear cut. And the legal position can vary from country to country. I’m not a legal expert but my understanding is that under English law a recipient of a communication is obliged not to disclose the content of an expressly marked confidential communication. (It would be interesting to some expert thoughts on this.)

With all the current concern about data leakage, it clearly makes sense to ensure that email disclaimers and corporate policies for business communications are as good as you can get them. They might be your last line of defence.