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manjeet advocate (lawyer)     14 April 2011

Official e-mail

Is an Employer authorized to have an access to the business e-mail of his employees in India?

what would be the position if the employees are in India but the employer is a foreign concern where he is legally permitted to do so?


 5 Replies



Please get a copy of the companys IT AUP ( Information Technology Acceptable Use Policy), Email Policy. 

These polcies will shed light on whether the company, as a rule montiors employee emails WITHOUT NOTICE to employees. 

In some countries you cannot monitor employee emails. 

Keep in mind - Corporate email is the property of the company. Any email you draft/send/receive is the property of the company. 

You do not have a case solely on the fact that employer is monitoring your email but if someone is misusing that information against you at workplace, then you need to save those emails and report to HR soon

If you dont know, there are tools/devices on the corporate network that "sniff" the contents of emails and flag employees violating company policies. It is possible that your userid got flagged and you became visible in the eyes of the corporate cyber police. 

If you used corporate email to communicate with competitor/sent corporate documents out, then they have good reasons to monitor email and more. 

Hope this helps.




1 Like

Sanjeev Panda (Advocate)     16 April 2011

The privacy of email in India is not given statutory protection except to a limited extent as provided in Section 43 read with 66 Information Technology Act, 2000. However, as far as Business E-mail used by the employee and the access to the same by the employer is concerned, we do not have any statute on the lines of US legislation i.e. Electronics Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA) which offers workers protection in communication privacy.

However, in absence of any privacy law in India, in my opinion, the employee should have no reasonable expectation of privacy in communication using the business email. In US, under the Federal Statute, an employer may monitor e-mail stored on a computer owned by the company. However, it would be prudent for the employer to openly declare to employees the policy of monitoring e-mail using business email and the employee should be clearly told in explicit terms not to expect any privacy in such communication. Today, many employee policies state that employers own your work email and that you as the employee have no expectation of privacy.

In view of the above legal proposition, in my opinion in either case, the employer would be authorized to have access to the business email in India.

1 Like

manjeet advocate (lawyer)     18 April 2011

Thanks Adam and Sanjeev. I appreciate your response. its helpful.

Deepak Vasudevan (Tech Architect)     28 June 2011

I think the  business email is purely for conduct of business. As long as its purposes are shared for common business purposes I don't think there is a problem. Even software clients like Lotus Notes have even a provision to 'delegate others' to act on different mailboxes.

But if the employer is eavesdropping onto your personal emailbox and private space to satisfy his greed/bestial instincts then I think there is some trouble  brewing for him.

Kumar Doab (FIN)     28 June 2011

The desktops issued to employees in company offices, and official email id's have a password. Both are controlled by admin. In case an employee leaves the organization the computer and emails can be accessed by company.

Negative side is in case of a sensitive matter/complaint/inquiry during which each employee is supposed to submit his version, the higher officials who are worried and are also being investigated can ( and do) take computer guy in influence and access the contents. Such incidences are real. What should be done?


Kindly clarify if a company has a email policy, and employee has been vindicated and is being forced and coerced, and if the employee forwards emails to his personal email id ( which is also registered with company and used by employee for official purpose at a time) then it is legal.

Can employee produce those email printouts in court?

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