In the wake of the Panama Papers leak, the Sony Entertainment hack and Hillary Clinton’s unfolding email scandal, internet and email security have become persistent topics of discussion in tech-media and society at large. But in a world of increasing digital paranoia, spammers, hackers and scammers are not the only threats to you or your business. We are bound to make mistakes (we’re only human, after all) but with the power of email disclaimers, this doesn’t have to end in an intense legal battle and media whiplash.
Is future-proofing for email scandals really necessary?
One of the problems with email communication is that we can’t see who it is that we’re talking to. Generally, we can safely assume that an email is going in the right direction, but on occasion they do find their way into the wrong inbox – with potentially damaging repercussions. In 2015, the Australian Department of Immigration leaked the personal details of the G20 leaders when an employee unintentionally emailed the directors of the Asia Cup, a football tournament. Earlier this year, the British Ministry of Defence accidentally sent restricted NATO documents, detailing a series of military exercises, to a small fishing and ferry company.
Of course there are best practice methods that can avoid these sorts of leaks – like avoiding the reply button, and sending emails to individuals. However, it’s also worth considering safety measures that protect you after a breach, namely, email disclaimers. Many companies today are far too big to monitor every single employee communication, and email disclaimers are a useful mitigation against any legal issues that might arise from errors with emails.
What do disclaimers do?
What is the purpose of a disclaimer?
Email disclaimers are statements, usually appearing below an email, that disclaim the sender’s liability for the contents of that email. They might warn that the content should not be used if mistakenly received, that a company cannot be held to account for any unintentionally sent viruses, or that a company is not liable for any incorrect content composed by an employee. According to the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs, email disclaimers are also an appropriate defense in the case of a spamming accusation.
Are they legally enforceable?
There is much debate around the use and legality of disclaimers. New Zealand legal firm Turner and Hopkins suggest that given the legal standing of electronic data under the Electronic Transactions Act 2011, email disclaimers are in theory legally enforceable. This is provided that they are appropriately worded, and draw sufficient attention. That being said, email disclaimers don’t have to be extensive, wordy paragraphs of legal-speak, but they do need to be carefully crafted if they are to be used in court. You also need to be aware that laws around disclaimers vary internationally and are ever-changing – be up to date on legislation when dealing with overseas clients.
Crossware can get you started
Take control of your email disclaimers with a 30 Day Free Trial
One clever way to cover your bases without appearing banal, is to incorporate your disclaimer into an attractive email signature. Transform that legal statement into a marketing gem. A simple way to implement this is through Crossware Mail Signature a centralised email signature solution (try a 30 day free trial here!) Crossware allows you to easily set up compliant, attractive and cross-platform compatible signatures and disclaimers for your business.
Want more info on email disclaimers?
For more in-depth information, check out our white paper on disclaimers and this post on international disclaimer laws. Also, check out some of our tips on how to create an effective email signature, and how to include a disclaimer without detracting from it.