Employees Using Personal Email Accounts to Send Large Files

In a recent survey conducted by Osterman Research, it was revealed that 82 percent of employees use their personal email accounts to send large work-related files when an email attachment exceeds the size limit imposed by IT.

Is this a problem?…YES

Lets say your company is involved in civil litigation and has received interrogatories (written questions as part of the discovery process) from opposing counsel. One of the questions could be; “Has any of your employees or contractors ever sent business related emails or attachments to another party using their personal email account?” According to the Osterman data, 82% of your employees will answer yes to that question.

Why is this a problem?

First, your eDiscovery process including legal hold requirements will have to include searching your employees personal email accounts, if they give you permission. In my opinion, that doesn’t relieve you of the responsibility of protecting those responsive emails.

Second, eventually your employees are going to face the possibility of attorneys reading their personal emails and attachments from within their personal email accounts. There are few employees that will think this possibility is a good thing.

So how do you remove or at least lower this possibility?

First, create written email use policies that forbid employees from ever accessing their personal email accounts at work from employer provided equipment.

Second, Include in the above mentioned policy that company related records are never to be sent or received from personal email accounts.

Third, explain to employees that if they violate the policy, they could be fired.

Forth, explain that if they were to violate the policy, attorneys, including opposing counsel may be reading their personal emails in discovery some day.

Fifth, create a way within your infrastructure to send and receive large files so employees don’t have to fall back to using their personal email accounts to send or receive large business related files.

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