How do you do....it? Thread, Email Disclaimers in Technical; Mmm.. suspect e-mail disclaimers are the world's current greatest example of why you should distrust consensus .
Everyone doing it ...
17th June 2011, 07:40 PM #16
Mmm.. suspect e-mail disclaimers are the world's current greatest example of why you should distrust consensus.
Everyone doing it because everyone does it.
If disclaimers are any use then given a decade of fairly extensive e-mail use we would surely have some case-law to back that up. All there really is of course that oft-cited case in the wrong dismissing the influence of a disclaimer over other substantive message content. The only thing the specialist megaquid lawyers seem to agree on is that it might, and that's an untested might, be useful to put a brief confidentiality notice at the start of messages that are genuinely confidential i.e. warn me before I read it.
As above (@pctru)if you really have to have one then your very best bet is to appeal to my good nature (i do have one honest!): "please", "would you kindly", warn me about being subject to FOIA etc. If I ever get anything sensitive from a public org with "must", "prohibited" and their ilk then it's going direct to a red-top and not least the ICO because I just hate that lazy facist tat... as in who the Heck do you think you are to give me orders? And I'm reasonably sure the ICO latter will tend to focus on the internal policies and procedures you don't have to help prevent it happening in the first place whilst contemplating a fine... "doh, I thought putting some threatening psuedo-legalese on every e-mail anyone sends would.." isn't going to cut it.
Last edited by PiqueABoo; 17th June 2011 at 07:45 PM.
IDG Tech News
18th June 2011, 05:45 PM #17
I love the email disclaimer discussions and I wish that had remembered to record a seriously good chat @ZeroHour and I had on this.
Yes, there are lots of stuff out there that shows the limited legal backing or no legal backing (under DPA especially) that disclaimers provide. However, the use of disclaimers is not limited to, or even specifically directed towards external recipients. The greatest use of disclaimers is to support internal policies or sections of employment contracts. To external contacts it is a clear warning of the expectations or legal / contractual obligations on the sender. The sections about "notify the sender" informs the recipient of the first port of call should the email contain sensitive information (sensitive in the sense of DPA, Copyright or other contractual) and it is the sender's duty to report the breach internally (as per the the company / school policies and the employment contract of the sender).
If you are putting disclaimers in then you *must* ensure that it is backed and supported by policies for staff. The downside of this can be that this can often be mis-represented as a way of introducing areas which will allows schools to provide fresh ways of disciplining staff, rather than what it is ... clearly pointing out existing legal and contractual obligations. Some unions will dig in at this point ... others take a more pragmatic view and appreciate the work to clarify things.
Thanks to GrumbleDook from:
18th June 2011, 11:29 PM #18
Ours is as follows (in size 1 grey font thus doesn't appear as epicly huge on the email but is very readable)
This E-mail and any files transmitted with it are confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom it is addressed. If you are not the intended recipient, you must take no action based on them, nor must you copy or show them to anyone; please forward to: postmaster@schooldomain and highlight the error. Every effort has been made to ensure that this message (and any attachment) does not contain a virus or Trojan Horse, but you are advised to virus check any attachment before opening it. School Name cannot accept any liability for damage as a result of a virus being passed on, or arising from alteration of the contents of this message by a third party.
School Name is a registered Charity No: Charity Number , Full Postal Address
Tel: 01234 567890 | Fax: 01234 567891
Visit the school's Website at www.schoolwebsite.com
The fact we disclaim is in the Internet / Network / Email Polcies adopted by the governors, and the automated systems in Exchange also put on the role that a user has within the establishment, thus it puts my name and IT Manager automatically on all my email from my account.
Student Emails are slightly different, they have that same basic disclaimer but has the extra bit that says this email is from a student at School Name to ensure that people outside of school can see and realise that they are dealing with a student thus should be more careful if its anything contractual etc... as we have had that before!
2 Thanks to john:
TheScarfedOne (19th June 2011), zag (20th June 2011)
20th June 2011, 08:32 AM #19
Anyone know how to change the colour of the disclaimer in Office 365? It seems to be only plain text.
20th June 2011, 01:11 PM #20
That protects you from nothing btw. If your school sent a virus (and not spoofed email) your liable regardless.
Every effort has been made to ensure that this message (and any attachment) does not contain a virus or Trojan Horse, but you are advised to virus check any attachment before opening it. School Name cannot accept any liability for damage as a result of a virus being passed on, or arising from alteration of the contents of this message by a third party.
20th June 2011, 09:48 PM #21
Interesting as that disclaimer was written with and checked by a group of solicitor for a local charity I volunteer for (as I swiped it back for the school) as all mail is stamped including via headers to show it left us clean (assuming the gateway AV is up to date) as well as auto stamped by the AV on it's way out of the door as it were so interesting view on that ZH. I'm not saying I fancy being challenged in court for anything but its fairly common practice and is in many software vendors T&Cs if you actually read them as its nearly the same wording at times that state that X's program was virus free when it left them but hey what occurs now isn't there issue and if it screws your PC not there problem.
Originally Posted by ZeroHour
20th June 2011, 09:57 PM #22
The disclaimer does not protect you or remove your liability. What it does do is attempt to show that you have taken all reasonable action on your part (presuming you do what it says in the disclaimer) and that you have also advised the recipient (intended or otherwise) that they should take all reasonable action on their part.
It is all about reducing the amount of damaging which can be attributed to you and mitigating the risk. It does not absolve you of legal liabilities, but is a robust defence. That is what you pay serious money to solicitors for, after all.
20th June 2011, 10:07 PM #23
I put a link to a disclaimer on our website, 0 people have ever visited it
20th June 2011, 10:41 PM #24
Pretty much what GD said, also context makes a difference too but really it attempts to limit how much you could be on the hook for rather then meaning your not on the hook at all.
Originally Posted by john
20th June 2011, 11:00 PM #25
Presuming it says you do anything as opposed to giving people orders and making interesting statements that suggest you think you are above the law.
presuming you do what it says in the disclaimer
I appreciate your angle here, but disclaimers describing what lovely things an org does are not exactly common in amongst the one's I've had over they years.
..apparently bored people have researched this a few time and shown most folk do not read them when they're way down at the bottom of those mails, which I think obliges everyone+dog to stick them at the top if they're really trying to demonstrate they've done everything reasonable..
I put a link to a disclaimer on our website, 0 people have ever visited it
A robust defence is one where we've got existing case-law to make it robust, surely?
I may be way off here, but have occasionally wondered how you might pursue a 3rd-party for their negligence in sending you a virus, when in principle that can only cause damage because you were equally negligent. Are courts likely to be that impressed by pots calling kettles..? Still it's probably at least £10 a word, so...
If your school sent a virus (and not spoofed email) your liable regardless.
I was wondering: Is the liability insurance you can get for all of the stuff people reckon they can disclaim away a complete rip-off, or a sage precaution?
20th June 2011, 11:08 PM #26
A robust defence can sometimes be one that prevents it from going to court in the first place, remembering that many such issues get resolved out of court via negotiations between legal support.
Originally Posted by PiqueABoo
The defence, in itself, is a common one used to support data protection breaches, H&S issues, negligence claims, etc ... the act of informing someone, or at least giving them access to the information, about the lengths you have gone to as an individual or a company to protect the company and anyone in contact with them has been used many times.
It usually falls down when the notification has not been reasonable (small print on contracts, stupidly place signs about clamping in private car parks, no 'wet floor' signs whilst cleaners are out and about doing their stuff ...) so most companies take it as a risk, but try to mitigate or share the risk as much as they can. This does not devolve the liability though ... it just makes it nigh on impossible to win a claim as it is also expected of people to have common sense and read things when made available.
It is a fine line ... that is why folks in the Legal professions get nice amounts of money ... because it is cheaper to pay them and get the advice than paying out to other people.
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