91 Minn. L. Rev. 241 (2006-2007)
Don't Read This If It's Not for You: The Legal Inadequacies of Modern Approaches to E-Mail Privacy

handle is hein.journals/mnlr91 and id is 253 raw text is: Note

Don't Read This If It's Not for You:
The Legal Inadequacies of Modern Approaches to
E-mail Privacy
Joshua L. Colburn*
For many, electronic mail (e-mail) has become an inte-
grated component of daily life. With no postage and the promise
of a virtually instant reply time, it is no wonder that e-mail
volume has increased from 5.1 million messages in 2000 to
135.6 million messages in 2005.1 Unfortunately, many users
cling to a false sense of security associated with e-mail's wide-
spread acceptance as a legitimate communication medium.2 In
an effort to limit liability and increase privacy, a growing num-
ber of e-mailers have incorporated disclaimers into their mes-
sages.3
* J.D. Candidate 2007, University of Minnesota Law School; B.S. 2003,
University of Minnesota: Institute of Technology. The author thanks Dean
Joan Howland for her advice and guidance, Lorre and Vicki Colburn for their
loving support, and the outstanding editors and staff of the Minnesota Law
Review. In addition, the author extends special thanks to Mark Karon for his
topic development assistance. Copyright © 2006 by Joshua L. Colburn.
1. Lizzette Alvarez, Got 2 Extra Hours for Your E-mail?, N.Y. TIMES,
Nov. 10, 2005, at G1.
2. CHRISTINA CAVANAGH, MANAGING YOUR E-MAIL: THINKING OUTSIDE
THE BOX 46 (2003) (We have fooled ourselves into regarding our e-mail corre-
spondence as we would a conversation-a surrogate for a more personal ex-
change like the telephone or face-to-face.).
3. See CATHERINE SANDERS REACH ET AL., A.B.A. LEGAL TECH. RES.
CTR., 2006 AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION LEGAL TECHNOLOGY RESOURCE CEN-
TER SURVEY REPORT: WEB AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY TREND REPORT
13 (2006) (reporting that seventy-six percent of firms surveyed use confiden-
tiality statements as a security precaution).
For an example of a typical disclaimer, examine the following suggested e-
mail footer:
This e-mail and any files transmitted with it are confidential and are
intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom they
are addressed. This communication may contain material protected
by the attorney-client privilege. If you are not the intended recipient
or the person responsible for delivering the e-mail to the intended re-

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