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Australian Bosses will legally Read Staff Email

As part of the 'War on Terror' Australian bosses will soon be able to legally read their employees email.

Do we really have to? I can see some executive wage pressures.

This is apparently neccesary to spot terrorist risks, according to the government. I can see a training opportunity here - someone will have to teach the executives how to read, in between the lines, and of course - speed read to get through it all. Who thought of this torture? 

Perhaps they could outsource it to the government or contractors.

HR better get to work on that job specification, I'll need some ideas from you to pick a name for the position and refine the specs:


Nosy parkers required to read infinite amounts of boring rubbish in the hope of spotting a tidbit.

Must be multi-multi-lingual and perfectly understand all slang, ancient and modern including LOL etc.

Must understand all known encryption systems and defeat them on the fly.

Previous experience at as a spy to look good on the company profile would be advantageous. 

I see a new market for USB encrypters so that you can send private attachments to friends. Something that masqueraded as a camera downloading your secret messages into innocent pictures of you and the secretary in Paris last week.

I suppose we could just pad all our mails with keywords in some vague context and overload the eyeballs and robot readers, but then perhaps they would ban the use of certain words.... 

The Deputy Prime Minister said something like "We don't care what went on at the Christmas  party, this is about protecting our critical infrastructure from terrorism". 

Perhaps if she could just suggest what we should be looking for?

ps. I originally entitled this ...Emal a mispelling for obvious reasons. Freudian slip.


Comments: (1)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 14 April, 2008, 09:38Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

I was wondering what sort of effect this legislation might have on financial services. Many people choose to log on to their internet banking, and do other more security sensititve tasks online, while they are at work because they perceive their work connection as safer (and they may want to hide the Christmas club account from the Mrs). Will this lead to more phishing and trojans or more useless anti-virus sales?

Of course, I can't imagine that an employee's private details would be of much use to employers in wage negotiations, but it might put a few off it means having their personal finances open to the boss.

Maybe those private emails from your broker should go to the home email.

The next thought I had was if the government gives permission for 'terrorism reasons' it would be totally ineffective unless they actually forced bosses to do it. That's probably in the fine print. Ultimately doesn't it come down to every keystroke employees make because anything could be part of a communication?

I don't see any real benefits here because there are quite a few lesser known ways to communicate without the boss knowing or using email, so any really determined 'terrorist' in your midst would be a step ahead.  Recording all phone calls and SMS would have to be next. SMS is a message just like an email, and you can even SMS-to-email directly.

Every call recorded and SMS on your work mobile. It's a lot for the boss to read. I suppose the government will offer to help. I'm keen to help too, are there any bank's who would like me to read their employee's email, I promise I'll ignore all the easy money from the inside tips and I won't mention any on my blog - for a fee. There'll be a lot of billable hours in this. You'll have to sack your more talkative employees on account of the cost of bugging them.

Where does it stop? 

Any industry which is 'critical' to the running of the country. Finance, power, water, food, transport, communications, medical care, 'that gentleman's club' and the tea-lady's union...the list goes on.

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