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3. The deletion problem ----------------------- A further privacy issue surrounding e-mail involves what happens when you delete an e-mail message. You might expect that deleting an e-mail message removes it irretrievably. This is often not case. though.
In fact, it's a tough job to delete every copy of a piece of e-mail. There are many ways that a "deleted" e-mail message might still be accessible:
1. Daily or weekly backups of mail server may still contain messages that were subsequently deleted.
2. When you delete an e-mail message, many e-mail programs simply move it to a trash folder, rather than actually deleting it. It's not until you select their "Empty Trash" command (or similar) that message is actually deleted.
3. Even after you empty your trash folder, many network-based e-mail programs still archive deleted messages for a period of time before deleting them. During this archival period (30-90 days is typical) message could be available to unscrupulous or unauthorised individuals.
4. Even after a file is deleted from a computer's hard disk, information is often still available until that portion of disk's surface is overwritten with new information. During this period deleted files could be available to unscrupulous individuals with physical access to computer.
5. Even if you take steps to avoid all potential problems above, remember that e-mail message is probably still available on PC of person you sent it to (or who sent it to you).
4. Conclusions -------------- The moral of this story is clear: e-mail is not a private medium. Don't send messages by e-mail unless you're comfortable assuming that they may be read by people other than intended recipients.
So next time you go to press that "Send" button, ask yourself "Am I okay with this being seen publicly?" If not, pick up phone!
Tim North http://www.betterwritingskills.com firstname.lastname@example.org You'll find over 200 writing tips in Tim North's new e-book BETTER WRITING SKILLS.