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if you have received this communication in error October 27, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Technology Trouble.
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cc-licensed photo by SAN_DRINO

cc-licensed photo by SAN_DRINO

Being that I’m working with some fairly large agencies that are concerned with intellectual property theft, I’ve lately been seeing e-mails with something like this at the bottom:

The information contained in this message and any attachment may be proprietary, confidential, and privileged or subject to the work product doctrine and thus protected from disclosure. If the reader of this message is not the intended recipient, or an employee or agent responsible for delivering this message to the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution or copying of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this communication in error, please notify me immediately by replying to this message and deleting it and all copies and backups thereof. Thank you.

I realize that this is all at the behest of the legal department, but what does it actually accomplish? If you received the e-mail in error, you’re more likely to delete it out-of-hand than actually pay any attention to it. I understand asking people to reply if the message was received in error because the sender needs to know, but it’s that last part that kills me:

If you have received this communication in error, please notify me immediately by replying to this message and deleting it and all copies and backups thereof.

Deleting all copies and backups. Right. Because you’re going to call IT and say “hey, I got this message in error, can you delete the backups off the server to comply with their legal statement”?

Of course not. You’re just going to throw it into your deleted items and go on with your life.

If you’re the e-mail’s sender, well… it’s your own fault if the wrong person gets it. You should proofread your “to” field.

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