More Emails Embarrass Their Writers

In case you need more proof that your emails may become public, two successive front page New York Times articles on Monday highlight damaging emails. The first article uncovers emails about Solyndra, the solar-panel manufacturer that received government funding and has since declared bankruptcy. In one email, Lawrence Summers, President Obama's former chief economic adviser, wrote, "While that is good for us, I can't imagine it's a good way for the government to use taxpayer money." Emails in the newsIn another email, he wrote, "I relate well to your view that gov is a crappy vc [venture capitalist]." Depending on your perspective, these emails prove that either the administration should have known better than to make the Solyndra deal or there was serious, rational internal debate about the prospect before the deal was done. 

The second New York Times story revealed emails about the pipeline currently debated. According to the artile, "...e-mails released Monday paint a picture of a sometimes warm and collaborative relationship between lobbyists for the company building the billion-dollar pipeline and officials in the State Department, the agency that has final say over the pipeline." The emails have environmental groups questioning the objectivity of those making the final decision.

In both of these situations, it is doubtful that the writers intended for their emails to become public.

Discussion Starters:

  • How could these emails have been better protected? Is it possible to keep email from being retrieved later by simply deleting it?
  • What lesson do you learn from these articles? How can you protect your own communications in the future?