Saturday, February 18, 2006

Client Confidentiality:

A Lawyer's Duties with Regard to Internet E-Mail

So, what could be the problems with a tool that has such powerful advantages? Seasoned "netlawyers" need no warning about the party-line communications over the Internet. However, the average, unsophisticated e-mail user is blissfully unaware of the potentially serious problems existing with communications over a far-flung computer network. The principle problem is privacy or, actually, a lack of privacy. There have been some notorious and embarrassing situations involving e-mail messages that were thought to be private and untraceable.(note 4) There is controversy about employer monitoring of employee e-mail and the need to balance employee privacy against the needs of corporate, or even national, security interests.(note 5) These problems are real, but to the extent that they are confined to local area networks (LAN) existing internally to a law firm, they are irrelevant to this paper. While these are compelling and even intriguing discussions, they are beyond the scope of this paper. Primarily, this paper focuses on the problems that may be associated with the use of e-mail communications over a wide area network, i.e., the Internet.


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