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This blog post is intended for the addressee shown.

by Jeremy L. Gaddis on July 24, 2013 · 2 comments

in Off-topic

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I’m a pretty easy guy to get along with, I think. I’m fairly laid back and there’s not a whole lot that really bothers me. It takes a lot to truly upset me. While some people (especially many of the women I have dated) would, when questioned, insist that I am a “grade A” asshole, I don’t really think I am.

There are some things, though, that really just annoy the shit outta me.

This block of text, which appeared at the bottom of an e-mail from a “System Operations Specialist” at Aclara, a company that provides technologies like TWACS,  is one of ‘em:

This e-mail is intended for the addressee shown. Should you have
received it in error, please delete this message and contact the sender.
This e-mail and any attachments thereto may contain information that is
privileged, confidential or proprietary. Any review, dissemination or
use of this transmission or its contents by persons other than the
addressee or authorized employees of the intended organizations is
strictly prohibited.

You might have heard me rant about this bullshit that I’m certain some overpriced air thief of a lawyer came up with. Later, some suit at another company saw it and from there it spread faster than the Morris worm. The morons who insist that similar messages be automatically slapped on to every piece of e-mail that leaves their company servers obviously spent less time consciously thinking the repercussions through than I spent trying to find Aclara’s CEO’s e-mail address on their web site (hint: about 30 seconds).

Unfortunately, I didn’t find it. I was hoping that I would because I wanted to point out just what those idiotic “disclaimers” actually accomplish.

Let’s rewind to yesterday.

Note: I’ve changed the name of the “System Operations Specialist” who almost certainly is an innocent bystander and didn’t choose to have these unenforceable “legal disclaimers” tagged on to every message he sends out.

So yesterday afternoon, “Bob” sends an e-mail to “Sally” (also not her real name). Sally is employed by one of my customers, an electric utility who is also a customer of Aclara (to be clear, my company handles all I.T. for the utility). The e-mail contains some information about an ongoing issue that they’ve been experiencing. Sally, who is not a technical person, passes the e-mail along to my boss and, along with a question from the bossman, it ends up in my mailbox shortly afterward.

What is one to do?

Obviously, I should respond to the e-mail from my boss along with the answer to his question, right? My answer will provide insight into the issue and I’ll probably even offer up a solution since I know exactly what is causing the anomaly that is being seen. At this point, no one else does. Clearly, I should respond with this useful information.

“… delete this message … contact the sender … use of this transmission … by persons other than … authorized employees of the intended organizations is strictly prohibited.”

Yes, I should respond with this useful information. Because I am not “the addressee shown” or even an employee of the intended organization (not to mention an authorized one!), I am “strictly prohibited” from doing so.

Thanks to some asshat lawyer, I am “prohibited” from providing assistance and, quite possibly, resolving this issue.

I’m sure that you can see the major malfunction here so, please, if your company is ever considering slapping these meaningless, completely unenforceable contracts onto the bottom of every employee’s e-mail messages, please point them here so that they might understand why doing so is a bad idea.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must try to find contact information for Aclara’s general counsel so that I can request, in writing and notarized, an exception to this policy they have implemented.

Maybe I really am an asshole.

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