Email Ethics and Privacy Laws

Did you know that (cross)cultural communication is a broad and increasing topic concerning email ethics? There is an entire field of study that researches how people from diverse cultural backgrounds communicate, both within societal groups and cross-culturally. This also results in increasing privacy laws and regulation. It’s wise to respect foreign cultures and religions in general, especially if you want to get (more) results on time from someone.  Therefore, I recommend staying focused on the work at hand and avoid talking about religion or cultural differences when emailing.

Besides cultural aspects, data protection and security are becoming more important as more and more communication is handled digitally. Both internal guidelines and external regulations are not making it easier, though these aspects should not be taken lightly.

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.
Nelson Mandela

Do you know where your email will end up? Sending email is a kind of online exposure, especially when sending to different companies. Always be aware that the recipient of your email can forward to others, CC or even BCC new people. Anticipate that confidential or sensitive information about individuals or organizations could be delivered into the wrong hands. Use the BCC option for recipients that don’t know each other, if you are sending to a large group and/or sharing something confidential and you only want single responses (to avoid reply to all). The BCC will also help to protect your recipient’s privacy, hiding their name and email address from all others.

Besides guidelines within your organization or agreements you have with external parties, legal aspects also play a role. For instance, the GDPR law (General Data Protection Regulation) of the EU applies to any business that collects any personally identifiable data. Note that this applies everywhere, since you can’t easily determine if someone you’re interacting with is currently in the EU or not. Also, this applies to email addresses from the EU. The FAQ of EUGDPR can help you with more information on how to anticipate (future) government regulations and general insights.

How do you think about email ethics and privacy? Feel free to share it in the comments below or contact us.

Giel Boes

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