My name is danah boyd and I'm a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and the founder/president of Data & Society. Buzzwords in my world include: privacy, context, youth culture, social media, big data. I use this blog to express random thoughts about whatever I'm thinking.

Relevant links:


anti-corporate sig files

I don’t know why, but lately, i’ve been getting more email from the type of corporate folks that drive me nuts with their “this is private” sig. I know it’s not their fault, but their companies.. but still – it’s not even legal. Anyhow, it reminded me of Cory’s old sigfile which i thought i’d repost to make everyone smile in light of the random C&D requests as of late.

The information contained in this communication is intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom it is addressed[1] and others authorized to receive it[2]. It may[3] contain confidential or legally privileged[4] information. If you are not the intended recipient[5] you are hereby notified that any disclosure[6], copying[7], distribution[8] or taking any action in reliance on the contents[9] of this information is strictly prohibited and may be unlawful[10]. If you have received this communication in error[11], please notify us immediately by responding to this email[12] and then delete it from your system[13]. OpenCola is neither liable for the proper and complete transmission of the information contained in this communication[14] nor for any delay in its receipt.[15]

[1] Unless it’s something funny that I found on a blog and I’m just forwarding it

[2] I.e. Just about anyone

[3] Or not

[4] IANAL. But I *am* an ordained Minister of the Universal Life Church. So while you don’t get no attorney privilege with me, you may be able to claim some kind of confessor confidentiality. Step into the box and tell me your sins!

[5] I.e., Just about anyone

[6] Except to your SMTP host

[7] Except to your hard-drive as part of your mail-spool

[8] Except from your SMTP host to your mail-spool

[9] I.e., Helping Nigerian generals launder their fortunes, sending postcards to possibly fictitious dying British children, or forwarding bogus but terribly urgent virus warnings

[10] Hey, everything’s illegal somewhere!

[11] In other words, if *I* made a mistake, I plan on somehow coercing *you* into doing something about it

[12] Send all such notice to our special “oops” account:

[13] Also, please write random bits to every sector on your drive seven times, dissolve your RAM with sulfuric acid, gouge your eyes out and get a prefrontal lobotomy

[14] Our server has been having problems with overlong .sigs lately

[15] There is no fifteenth footnote

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

3 comments to anti-corporate sig files

  • curiousgirl

    what is not legal about it? an honest question — i don’t know the answer.

    also, it’s not just corporate people who have this — i work for a non-profit and am required to add that type of info to my sig.

    why does it bother you so much?

  • Ok… not legal is probably a bit of an overstatement. It is non-binding, non-consentual and outright overbroad. Basically, it is meaningless and therefore irritating. And, as we’ve learned in any court, you have to turn those messages over just like any other when they are subpoenaed.

    It bothers me because people hide behind the terms under false pretenses. Basically, it’s trying to set social mores through hefty language.

  • It’s errant nonsense: this message MAY be privileged (privilege is narrowly tailored and certainly does not include every blip of ASCII to cross even a law-office’s threshhold, let alone the average company or NGO’s), violating that privilege MAY be illegal (it almost certainly isn’t, since being the recipient of someone else’s mistaken send hardly binds you to any particular course of action), and who gives a toss if someone asserts that it’s “strictly prohibited” — I mean, be as strict as you want, the fact remains that the “strict prohibitions” imperiously demanded by whatever firm is inserting this sigfile is worth the paper it’s not printed on.

    As to liability for “partial transmission” and delay — why should anyone have to note this? Is the implication that anyone who lacks the foresight to include this very clever disclaimer IS liable for partial tranmission and delay?

    These notices serve no conceivable legal purpose other than intimidation by lawyer and the crufting up of all correspondance with objectionable, threatening, unreasonable crapola that is to really good social interaction as public urination is to enjoying a really good meal.