Property of Privacy and Control of Electronic Communications

N. Lugaresi (Italy)


Email, privacy, control, property, confidentiality, workplace. 1.


“My email is …”. A common line, through which we provide others with “our” email address. Often, “our” email address is the address that our private or public employers assigned to us. Then, whose is that email address? Is it “ours” or is it “theirs”? And whose is the content of the emails? Beyond that, what level of confidentiality should we expect about our electronic communications in the workplace? Can others legally read our email? Who can “manage” email addresses, for example with reference to the preferences to be set, such as spam filtering? Who can react, under a legal point of view, to privacy invasions? What can be done to reach a satisfactory compromise between employers’ and employees’ expectations? This paper, starting from a European Union perspective, aims at answering these questions, analyzing legal documents and applying analogy criteria between online and offline behaviors. In particular, it aims at demonstrating that proprietary rights cannot curb fundamental rights, like privacy.

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