I read your email

… is a bumper sticker a friend of mine gave me about two decades ago. I never did put it on my car because it would (rightly) freak people out. I did hang it up in my cubicle because … if you work for my employer, I may indeed read your email. You see, I’m the e-discovery guy.

Now really, I’m not going to read your email unless there is some lawsuit or public records act request that indicates your email should be included in the discovery. Even then, I’m not going to read any more than I have to, to verify that the e-discovery query I’ve created is operating properly.

Actually reading your email is a paralegal’s job, after I hand over the evidence, er, everything that matches the search query. Whether it qualifies as evidence needs to be determined by someone with legal training: not me!

I should probably mention that this is within a large organization’s email system, and all employees get training during the on-boarding process that email in our system is the property of the organization: there is no right to privacy here. We are a public sector organization, so anyone can file a public records act request for anything in our email system. Don’t do personal stuff in the corporate email!

There are two of us on the email discovery team. Lately, we’ve been working on the email retention project. We’re going to purge email older than each department’s retention period. It is crucial that we don’t purge items that need to be kept. So these last few days, I’ve been calling up people’s old email, and checking that the addresses of senders and recipients match the labels on the email. There’s about five million email to check; we will not be able to check every one. We’re spot checking.

But, in spot-checking, I really am making the bumper sticker come true. It’s generally tedious, too. If there’s an email address I don’t recognize, there might be a clue in the email thread as to which departments this email is between. So I may have to actually read the email, instead of simply scanning the addresses and labels.

This was a long-winded way of saying that a co-worker of mine sent himself an email in 2008 with a link to a web page article. What the heck: I’ll click that link.

Kudos to you techtarget.com – your link still works, fifteen years later. Impressive.

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