Lots of people are unaware that e-mails already existed when companies still used the electric typewriter. The first email, which is known, was sent in 1971 by Ray Tomlison. And the first email address created is also his: tomlison @ bbn-tenexa.
Since the end of the last millennium, some companies have already been concerned with its use by their employees, and thus, they have already created trainings determining the correct use of e-mail. Some companies have already incorporated rules for their use even in their code of conduct.
A relevant fact in the history of e-mails was the recognition of it as a work tool and therefore, having the right to monitor it, after all, there may be consequences and responsibilities for the company, according to article 932, item III, of the Civil Code, and the Anticorruption Law (nº 12.846 / 13).
The fact is that today, we already have around 4 billion email addresses. If we consider that 1 GB of e-mails corresponds to approximately 50,000 printed pages and that there are individuals with 10 GB or more of e-mail storage, it is possible to have an idea of the amount of data found there. While in 1993, the number of paper correspondence reached 171 billion and e-mails reached 50 billion, in 2020, the estimated volume is 130 billion paper correspondence and 500 trillion e-mails.
Currently, several services and internet providers offer e-mail addresses, in addition to the companies themselves, while the most common are those offered by Microsoft Exchange, iCloud, Gmail and Yahoo. Important information is that 65% of the volume of e-mails in the world travels on Microsoft Exchange.
The fact is that e-mails are no longer just a working tool to become one of the most efficient resources in obtaining evidence to disclose misconducts committed by employees aiming at illegal or unethical activities.
In fact, anyone using e-mail in a corporate environment needs to be aware that they will be held responsible if they violate any law or regulation, whether internal or external. Depending on the company's IT (information technology) infrastructure, with respect to backups or use of the cloud, or even if you use Microsoft Exchange, acquiring certain features, for example, the user can delete the message and, then delete it from the deleted items box (trash) and even though, the message can be redeemed.
While ordinary users have the visibility of “from”, “to”, “cc” (open copy), “bcc” (blind copy), subject, for the most part of them, they are unaware of the sender's IP and of the recipient, the domain address, the time of sending and receiving, and the entire path taken by the message.
And because they generally have visibility of the characteristics listed above, they can be victims of fraudulent information, which does not correspond to the real sender of the email. To check the real information, the user must just click on the message properties and there will be the real information.
By the way, as regards investigations in transnational companies, in which it is necessary to track e-mails in different countries, it is important to agree on the time of one country only, because depending on where the e-mail is collected, it will have a difference in time; this may cause a serious problem in establishing a timeline.
Another important initiative, considering the volume of e-mails that can be made available for investigation, is in relation to sequencing, that is, a message can be broken down into another 10 or more, insofar as 1 or more users respond or forward such message to another. In this case, instead of selecting 10 messages, just select the most recent message, which contains all the others in the body of a single email.
With the increasing volume of data resulting from e-mails, keywords and groupings, techniques have been used with reasonable efficiency, depending on the common sense and the criterion used by the investigator. Metadata should never be overlooked by the investigator, especially with respect to the timeline and the geolocation.
And with the advancement of technology, tools such as the Lexbe eDiscovery Platform, greatly facilitate the investigator's operations, especially in the management and organization of data.
Therefore, the following advices for corporate email users shall be taken into consideration:
- Do not violate any law or regulation, internal or external.
- Avoid jokes or playful comments that could be considered misconduct.
- Do not use foul or disrespectful words, especially to recipients outside the company.
- Do not use corporate email for private purposes.
- Copy someone only if it is necessary.
- Do not promise or suggest anything that could be illegal or unethical.
- Try to focus on facts and data, avoiding personal opinions when possible.
- Be as concise as possible. Avoid prolixity.