[LINK] Can I read someone else's email?
Wed, 14 Mar 2001 09:10:12 +1100
Rick Welykochy <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>A staff member at ISP begins reading emails being sent by customer
>X, and determines that no, the emails being sent are not SPAM.
>Has ISP broken any laws?
>Has the staff member?
A starter, as I go out the door:
There are really several questions here. In particular, the actions of the
ISP and/or its staff-member could be in breach of criminal laws, or in
breach of the rights of some person (e.g. the message-sender and/or the
If the staff-member is an employee, and is reasonably operating within his
or her role as an agent for the ISP, the employee has probably broken no
law personally, even if the ISP has. A qualification might be if the
employee was a member of a professional body, whose code required
compliance with standards which clearly preclude such an action.
[But (speaking as a Fellow of the ACS ...), who ever heard of a
professional body actually taking any action on such things? So, with
apologies to my friend Ruth McColl, it's the Bar Assocation that's sorting
out those unethical N.S.W. barristers that are abusing the laws of
bankruptcy in order to avoid paying tax, is it??]
If the 'staff-member' is a contractor, then perhaps a slightly higher
standard is expected (e.g. the contractor is more likely to be exercising
There is (at least prior to December 2001), no general privacy protection
law in Australia. [And the chances of the amendments making much
difference are highly remote, but let's not go over all *that* again!]
I can't think off-hand of a specific law that would make the action of the
ISP (or of a staff-member acting other than in accordance with his or her
role in the organisation) illegal or actionable in a civil jurisdiction.
But a search on AustLII and through my pages would be sensible, e.g.
I stress that not only am I not a lawyer, but also that I'm in a hurry, and
out the door!
Roger Clarke http://www.anu.edu.au/people/Roger.Clarke/
Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, 78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
Visiting Fellow Department of Computer Science
The Australian National University Canberra ACT 0200 AUSTRALIA
Information Sciences Building Room 211 Tel: +61 2 6125 3666