InSITE--Who's Reading Your EMail?

Do you use your work email for personal notes? Catching up with old friends or making new ones? Watch yourself, because a lot of people are watching you, on line. I did a little digging, and found some amazing stuff. Let's say you don't do anything really wrong. Set up golf foursomes or meetings with Hollywood superstars and gubernatorial candidates, talk about your weekend or your dates, or how your company's under federal investigation.

The company in question, this time, is Enron. You know the basics. Questionable accounting, high salaries, big bankruptcy. When the Feds moved in, they seized all the computer servers, including the email. Including the deleted email.

Then the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission went looking for anything illegal or unethical, in the company email. The index of what they found itself is nearly 120 pages. Literally millions of emails. There's a database that you can use to search for keywords for a glimpse of what they found. The usual chain letter jokes are there, as are less than flattering references to other business partners and competitors, and personal issues like family problems. The thing to remember is this is everybody's email, and it's now on the 'Web where anyone can read it. Look at the top lines, they're actually from a deleted directory on a server. So nothing you delete is really ever deleted. The other thing, when the Feds first put this on the 'Web back in the spring, the emails were so raw they included personal information like credit card numbers, bank accounts and more. Those eventually came down, but the embarrassing stuff stayed up.

Speaking of embarrassing, check out what a California citizens group found. The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights dug through all the memos and came up with a meeting between Enron's top man, and gubernatorial front runner, Arnold Schwarzenneger. That's in the middle of the energy crisis that could cost California's current governor his current job.

The Wall Street Journal did much of the work on these emails, but it's a reminder for us all that your email is never private, and never really deleted.