I had a user freak out on me last week because he realized that as the systems administrator, I had access to every employee’s mail file (and subsequently all the emails contained within). He was very bothered by this. With all of the times I have helped this guy with his email issues, I guess it never once occurred to him that I could fix them because I could get into his email.
This is not the first time either, I’ve had several users react with anything from embarrassed laughter to veiled threats when they learn that I have this ability. Honestly, I have no interest in reading anyone’s email but my own. But I guess not everyone is like me, because more than one have admitted to me that they would abuse that power if they had it. (which is why I’m glad they don’t!)
So many of my users use their company email for personal things. I mean, we all do it to some extent or another. I have tried to limit mine to anything remotely-related to work and often encourage my users to do the same. People expect to have privacy when using company resources and when they find out that IT can see everything, they flip!
Anyways, this guy did not believe me when I explained that I had no interest in the contents of his email. I only look at someone’s mail file if there’s a legitimate reason — 99% of the time, it’s to resolve an issue they’re having. The other 1% has been when upper management and/or HR tells me to look at something specific.
And let’s be honest, I really don’t want to see that shit. No, really, I don’t want to know. Even while genuinely trying to help a user resolve a problem they’re having, I see way too much. Emails from where they shop, where they vacation, significant others (sometimes with not-so-professional subjects), which dating services they use (which makes things weird when I know that person is married!), and a lot more than I’d care to know. Seriously, I don’t care, I don’t want to know.
Maybe I’m more careful because of my background. Maybe it’s because I have seen the ugly side of the internet grow and evolve over the years. Or maybe because I’m paranoid …