BCTF E-mail Guidelines
Electronic mail (e-mail) is an effective communications tool for BCTF local leaders and members. E-mail is also an informal means of communicating, often replacing a telephone call or memo. Members should be aware of the public nature of e-mail and how we manage e-mail and mailing list records at the BCTF.
E-Mail and Privacy
Some reasons for exercising caution in using e-mail
- E-mail is not private. Access may be requested for law enforcement purposes.
- There is no control over what the recipient does with an e-mail message. It can be edited, forwarded, printed, or faxed to someone else.
- Backup server files of messages may exist on backup tapes.
- The recipient may not be the only person who reads the e-mail. Files on hard drives may not be password protected.
- When an individual is the subject of an e-mail message, her/his privacy is threatened if the message contains confidential and personal information.
- Ease-of-use e-mail technology may create a problem for an employee. It is very easy to mistakenly forward or broadcast a message on the public system that may result in the inadvertent disclosure of sensitive, personal information. It is also very easy to print an e-mail message onto a network printer where it may be viewed by other staff.
- For many reasons, e-mail may not be confidential or private on an e-mail server or individual hard drives, and messages may be re-directed to, or appear in, unexpected places. For example, if an addressee’s server is down, part of the message may appear in the mail administrator’s mailbox as being undeliverable.
- People can break into e-mail systems.
- Computers can be stolen.
E-mail virus alerts and spam filtering
- The Information Technology Department provides warnings about serious virus threats to the user community.
- Warnings received via e-mail should not be forwarded to any users or mailing lists; instead, they should be forwarded to Information Technology, email@example.com, for status determination.
- Information Technology is examining a variety of means for stopping spam at the server level before it reaches users' mailboxes. These methods may include blocking all mail from domains that produce spam and show no sign of trying to stop it, or show no success in doing so.
Information on how to avoid, prevent and filter spam can be found on the BCTF Online Support page, along with links to a variety of anti-spam resources. Staff who wish to complain about spam should send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org, and the Information Technology Department will investigate.
E-Mail And Freedom Of Information
Freedom of Information legislation
- Provincial government departments and agencies, and school boards in British Columbia must comply with Freedom of Information and Privacy legislation. Copies of documents, including printed copies of e-mail messages on file, may be distributed to a third party in response to a freedom of information (FOI) request. Organizations which accept government contracts in excess of $50,000 are subject to the same FOI legislation, and must comply with third party requests for documents relating to the contracts. The BCTF has received substantial government funding for some projects, and copies of documents pertaining to these projects may be requested under FOI.
E-mail and Records Management
When is e-mail a record?
- An e-mail message, whether in electronic or print format, may be considered a record. E-mail becomes a record when messages are created or received pertaining to an organization’s business. All e-mail messages may be subpoenaed and seized as legal evidence.
- An e-mail message, in electronic or print form, is a BCTF record if it contains information required or used by the Federation to carry out its business, or if it contains information for which the Federation or its staff can be held accountable. Some electronic mail records are classified by subject and retained in the BCTF's official records.
- The e-mail record may be created or received by BCTF staff, often replaces a more formal memo or letter, and needs to be retained for business purposes.
- Upon authorization of the Executive Director, BCTF members have access to the Federation's records which may include print copies of e-mail messages sent to the Records Centre for classification and filing. BCTF members do not have access to an employee's personal mailbox.
- All BCTF mailing list postings, with the exception of closed, private mailing lists, are e-mailed automatically to the BCTF Records Centre. The messages are retained electronically for one year.
Internet Policy and Procedures - E-mail and the Web
Prepared by the BCTF Technology Work Group
January 3, 2001
Please refer to the BCTF E-mail Attachments Policy for related information.