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Mass Email Warning

Email is a great tool for communicating one-on-one or with large groups of people. We are now seeing people sending announcements via email that they used to send by mail. It is economical and it is timely.

Have you received an email announcement, printed the message and seen that everyone in the sender's email database is listed as a recipient? A simple two paragraph announcement can take nine pages to print because of a long list of recipients. We received one message with over a thousand recipients listed!

You may be wondering why is this the subject of a LegalBriefs? Sure this is embarrassing, but why is it a legal topic? The answer, is depending on who is in your email database, legal problems can result.

Everyone that receives one of these messages can see the names and email addresses of every other recipient. If you work with some of your competitors on trade association issues, do you really want them to have the names and email addresses of your customers? This could lead to competition issues. For that matter, would you want your competitors to have the email addresses of employees within your firm that received copies of the message?

In this day of sensitivity to harassment, do you want to run the risk as being the person who gave a harasser the email address of a harassment target? There may be other areas of confidentiality where you do not want to acknowledge that you are communicating with a certain person. When you are trying to be discrete, do you really want to broadcast to the world that you have their email address?

The recipient list problem happens when the people receiving your message are listed in your email software as to "To" or "CC" recipients. You can avoid this problem by listing everyone as "BCC" recipients. It really is as simple as that. Or, for a modest price, you can acquire more sophisticated email software that sends your message to each recipient as a separate email, one at a time. That is how we send our LegalBriefs.

DON'T: Don't make the mistake of sending a mass email announcement that allows each recipient to see the names and addresses of each of the other recipients.

DO: Do send mass email announcements by using the "BCC" function for each recipient.

DO: Do consider more sophisticated email software if you frequently send messages to large lists of recipients.

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