State of Alaska, Department of Administration, Enterprise Technology Services

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Email Usage Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Is personal email I receive in my state mailbox private?
  2. State employees have no reasonable expectation of privacy in email communications made over the state email system (see Smyth v Pillsbury Co., 914 F. Supp. 97 (E.D. Pa. 1996); Bourke v Nissan Motor Corp., No. B068705 (Cal. Ct. App., July 26, 1993); see also the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (PL 99-508)).

    AS 40.25.110 states that, "[u]nless specifically provided otherwise, the public records of all public agencies are open to inspection by the public under reasonable rules during regular office hours." Under AS 40.25.120, subject to certain exceptions, "[e]very person has a right to inspect a public record in the state, including public records in recorders' offices . . . ."

  3. Can I send personal messages from my state account?
  4. Occasionally, personal email may be sent from the state account. Most agencies treat the personal use of the state’s email system as they treat the personal use of office phones. However, remember that all messages, including all personal messages, sent from the state’s email system can be reviewed by the State. If you have any reservations about the personal use of your state account, or if you are concerned about privacy, use a personal account on your own equipment on your own time. Also, consult Personal Use of State Office Technologies Policy (ISP-172), which is available on the Web site of the Division of Enterprise Technology Services here:

    https://intranet.soa.alaska.gov/admin/SecurityPolicies/ISP172BusinessUseAcceptableUse.pdf

    Further, under the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act, AS 39.52.120(b)(3), a public employee may not "use state time, property, equipment, or other facilities to benefit personal or financial interests."

    If your division allows reasonable personal use of the state email system, you may consider the following:

    • Personal email sent from a state account should be clearly marked as personal.
    • Personal use of any email or messaging should not interfere with your or others' work. Avoid such time wasters as jokes, chain letters, recipes, motivational messages or words of inspiration.
    • Send and read personal messages on your own time, during breaks or lunch.
    • Personal messages should not cause the agency embarrassment. Do not say anything in an email that you would mind hearing on the radio or television.