Friday, August 7, 2009


Call me a stickler, but I am sick and tired of emails that contain so-called confidentiality notices at the bottom of emails. I have some advice:


First, email confidentiality notices provide little to nothing in the way of protection and may actually may create a loophole in your non-disclosure agreements if you put them on every email you send. So you look like a douche bag, and you shoot yourself in the process of doing so. Here's what the lawyers say: Laptop Legal, The Connected Lawyer, Business Management Daily and Mr. Knowitall over at ExpertLaw.

Second, they make PR disasters caused by email leaks look like exposed conspiracies. You see, when they read your email on the six o'clock news instead of saying "in an email addressed to..." they say "today a CONFIDENTIAL EMAIL revealed that EvilCo had SECRETLY" which makes even innocent activity sound all cloak and dagger, in a very evil way.

Third, email confidentiality notices make every employee in your company look like a paranoid control freak with dilusions that they have the power to repeal entire Constituional Ammendments. And the reader knows your confidentiality notice has no power over the forward button or the submit button over at WikiLeaks.

Finally, email confidentiality notices harm sales and marketing. Let's say, Bob, my sales rep emails me a deal that I would like to refer to a friend who needs $1,000,000 worth of the item on sale. But your email says:
CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE -This message is intended only for the use of the individual or entity to which it is addressed. and may contain legally privileged and/or confidential information. If you are not the intended recipient of this e-mail (or the person responsible for delivering this document to the intended recipient), you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution, printing or coping of this e-mail, and any attachment there to, is strictly prohibited. If you have received this e-mail in error, please respond to the individual sending the message, and permanently delete the original and any copy of any e-mail and printout thereof.
I have to admit, I do get a kick out of reading these things.... Just for fun, comment with the worst confidentiality agreement you've ever seen.