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I read an email from a generally used email account which…

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I read an email from...
I read an email from a generally used email account which is my job duty to check and read incoming email there was an email that was not marked confidental or do not read it had an ind. salary information in the email. I was told by my manager that it was illegal that I read this email. Is this true?
Submitted: 8 years ago.Category: Legal
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Answered in 4 minutes by:
6/14/2010
Lawyer: LawTalk, Attorney replied 8 years ago
LawTalk
LawTalk, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 37,876
Experience: I am a practicing attorney with more than 3 decades of experience in the legal field.
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Good afternoon,

I'm sorry to hear of your dilemma.

If you are tasked with reviewing email which comes into your company's email account, and you happened to open and read an email which contained confidential information about another person---but which there was no indication that the email was private or confidential---NO, you did nothing illegal. It would only be illegal if you intentionally intercepted the communication when you were not given the right to do so.

Here is the federal law on the subject:

18 USC §2511 prohibits the interception of oral, wire, or electronic communications. The statute expressly states that any person who "intentionally" intercepts, endeavors to intercept, procures another person to intercept; or uses, endeavors to use, or procures another person to use a mechanic device to intercept any wire, oral, or electronic communication commits a punishable crime. When a device is used to intercept the electronic or wire communication, that device can be affixed to, or transmit a signal through a wire, cable, or other like connection. Also, when a device is used for the interception of the electronic communications, the person's conduct is also punishable if that person knows or has reason to know that the device has been mailed or transported in interstate foreign commerce. This statutory section sanctions the eavesdropping conduct even if "takes place on the premises of any business or other commercial establishment the operations of which affect interstate or foreign commerce; or obtains or is for the purpose of obtaining information relating to the operations of any business or other commercial establishment the operations of which affect interstate or foreign commerce." It is also a crime to "intentionally" disclosing, or intending to disclose, the intercepting communications to any other person; this is particularly applicable to spouses that intent to use the eavesdropped e-mails in family courts. This crime carries fines or imprisonment for up to five years. In certain circumstances, usually involving more serious violations, the person may be civilly sued by the Federal Government.

I see nothing illegal that you might have done and you are being given incorrect information by the manager.

I wish you the best in 2010.

Please don’t forget that I only receive credit for having helped you when you click on the Accept Button located at my Answer.

Best regards,

Doug


 

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