Email Privacy

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Email Privacy


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About Email Privacy

Email privacy is the broad topic dealing with issues of unauthorized access and inspection of electronic mail. This unauthorized access can happen while an email is in transit, as well as when it is stored on email servers or on a user computer. In countries with a constitutional guarantee of the secrecy of correspondence, whether email can be equated with letters and get legal protection from all forms of eavesdropping comes under question because of the very nature of email. This is especially important as relatively more communication occurs via email compared to via postal mail.

Email has to go through potentially untrustworthy intermediate computers (email servers, ISPs) before reaching its destination, and there is no way to tell if it was accessed by an unauthorized entity. This is different from a letter sealed in an envelope, where, by close inspection of the envelope, it might be possible to tell if someone opened it. In that sense, an email is much like a postcard whose contents are visible to everyone who handles it.

There are certain technological workarounds that make unauthorized access to email hard, if not impossible. However, since email messages frequently cross national boundaries, and different countries have different rules and regulations governing who can access an email, email privacy is a complicated issue.


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