e-Mail Monitoring at Work

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Background Question

” How would an employee find out if his Supervisor is e-mail monitoring work accounts?”

Response on e-Mail Monitoring at work

This is a very good question and largely applies to both public and private sector.  Neither the agency or its managers, are able to arbitrarily view agency e-mail accounts, in most cases.  In fact, it’s not even easy by most accounts though we expect with recent technological advancements at agencies (thanks to the Pandemic), it will become easier.  Most agencies have in place redundant safeguards to prevent unauthorized surveillance of employee e-mail accounts.  Typically, approval must be obtained from a division head and then IT approval, and finally, HQ approval.  This is not to say you have any right to privacy at work, because you really do not.

It would not be easy to determine if an agency or supervisor is monitoring your e-mail account.  Currently, MS Office 365, deployed by most agencies,. many provide key productivity insights, but not direct access to email content. You could file a FOIA with your agency.  You would most likely be better off simply asking via official channels, working your way up the chain of command.  If your e-mail account is being monitored, it is most likely being “swept” by surveillance or litigation support (think discovery) programs that focus on keywords or unusual activity based on what we have seen in evidence files used in disciplinary or adverse action proceedings.

The most important and obvious point is simply not to misuse agency information systems or resources of any kind. The system is not yours.


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