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City looking at privacy issues surrounding emails

The city of Wilmington is reviewing its e-mail policy after the Wilmington Star News discovered nearly 40,000 e-mails to and from city and employees had been marked as "private" within the last year. State law says most e-mails sent and received by city employees and elected officials that pertain to city operations are public record. The primary exception is confidential e-mails that relate to personnel issues. Some of the e-mails that were marked "private" were about the annexation of Monkey Junction and the new convention center. Other private e-mails referred to more insignificant things like moving office furniture. "We don't get it right every time. The flip side is we can face legal action, if we allow something to be open that should be protected,” said City Public Information Officer Malissa Talbert. The city is looking into a way to help its staff properly filter what is, and what isn't private information. Just today, the Governor signed an executive order saying emails sent to and from state government accounts will be public record for ten years. Each employee must keep their e-mails for at least 24 hours so they can be backed up on tape, unless for some reason, they're clearly not business related.

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Personal email

Simple...if it is private, then don't use government email. Use your personal email account. Where I work, IT can view everything that you do on your computer. Can track how much internet usage, your emails, etc. It isn't hard and our 2 IT guys don't sit there all day reading and watching. They have software that tracks it and can be reviewed by upper management whenever they ask for it. So, why even have the option of all government employees emails be private? If you are on company time and using company supplies and expenses, then it is fair game to whoever reads it. That is called actually working and having good work ethics. Which obviously very few have these days.

Private is not personal

Emails marked "private" are supposed to be marked that way because they contain information which would not be considered "public information" such as personnel matters. If an such an email concerning an employee is not marked private, that employee could sue the city for damages. Apparently the problem the city had was that some people weren't sure if the matter was considered public information or not, so they marked it private to be safe. I think the city needs to spend some time orienting employees who are emailing what is and what isn't public information. It's in the North Carolina General Statutes.

Another Account

Why folks don't just use another account such as Gmail or Hotmail for private emails I just don't understand.


Here's a solution: Have any and every e-mail from a city government e-mail address automatically copied to the newspaper.

Not all emails are public

Can't do that because for one, personnel matters are private and the employee concerned can sue the city for damages if the email is not listed as "private." Otherwise, what an idea. You think you have spam problems? Looks like the city will be going back to phone calls & not using emails anymore... And everyone wants to know why government is inefficient.