E-Mail Etiquette
(from Maine Townsman, "Technology Note")

E-Mail is common in many computer networks and over the Internet It is also available to municipalities through MINet, MMA’s Municipal Information Network. As a new communication medium it does present some issues that should be considered by individuals and municipalities alike.

E-Mail is not confidential:

It can be read at several points in the transmission process by system administrators or "the Boss" or on the recipients machine(s);

Employers have the right to read business communications done on "company" machines;

Deleted e-mail can be retrieved by computer experts; and

E-mail is acceptable as evidence in lawsuits.

Never write anything that will offend anyone:

E-mail should never violate the anti-discrimination laws & rulings since not only the author but the system owner (municipality) could be held responsible, and

E-mail should never contribute to a hostile work environment and open up charges of harassment.

To address these issues, Municipalities should institute an e-mail policy (sample available on MINet) containing:

Consent form for monitoring of e-mail;

Statement of acceptable and unacceptable uses, possible restricted to only town business

Policy for retaining documents transmitted by e-mail (possibly based on your current method of retaining paper files)