Technology Decision Makers

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A group for those in nonprofit IT decision-making roles to connect with peers and share best practices. This Technology Decision Makers group is for nonprofit IT or MIS Directors/Managers as well as CIOs and CTOs to connect with their peers and share best practices. Topics for discussion include, but are not limited to: hardware and software management, product reviews, emerging technology, best practices, collaborating effectively with other departments, and management conundrums. Membership is restricted to IT staff at nonprofit organizations.

Email disclaimer

  • 1.  Email disclaimer

    Posted Oct 24, 2017 16:27
    Should it be a requirement for all staff to have disclaimers at the bottom of each email, and if so why, what are the benefits, and best practices?


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    Patrick Jean
    IT Manager
    Episcopal Relief & Development
    New York, NY
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  • 2.  RE: Email disclaimer

    Posted Oct 25, 2017 09:00
    ​Patrick, I think it is best practice to have a standard, legally-blessed disclaimer on all outgoing emails.
    That being said, I've found the best way to do this is to have the disclaimer go out via the email server. We use Exchange, so I'm assuming Office 365 would have this function but I'm unsure about gmail.This ensures standardization and the end-user can't change it, as modification can change the intent and increase the agency's exposure.
    We use settings that exclude internal emails and do not repeat the disclaimer as it goes thorugh the rinse and repeat cycle.
    It may appear to be just another bunch of mumbo-jumbo that nobody reads, but it's a reality of the world we live in. Doing it on the server level relieves the staff of that responsibility.

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    Grace Barry
    Director of Information Technology
    Family Service League
    Huntington, NY
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  • 3.  RE: Email disclaimer

    Posted Oct 25, 2017 12:42
    My sentiment is that disclaimers are useless. That sentiment is predicated by the fact that they are not enforceable and, even citing statutes, doesn't mean that special or legal rights are conferred. I also feel hard-pressed to identify specific benefits unless your capturing what actions are taken on each email (e.g. forwards, reads, etc).

    In our shop, we have a compliance footer ONLY for folks engaged in legal work where there's an ethical consideration and the compliance footer only serves the same way that dotting an "i" or crossing a "t" works: to create clarity. In our compliance footer we suggest that any question about the content of the email or footer be sent to a compliance alias. In numerous years, I think we only got one message there...asking if they were on an email list. 

    An other aspect of the compliance footer is usability. In our scenario, using GSuite, we only have the compliance footer turned on for certain units AND only for outgoing/external email. When these footers are turned on by default, and are long, the recipient of the email is disinclined to read the full email attentively. I read that once folks glance at long-text, e.g. the message including footer, they're many times "turned off". 

    Finally, there's no "best practice" in this area because each shop will do what works for their needs (a place like Kaiser HMO requires patient correspondence happen through their web portal). There might be better practices but those would be based on/in your functional and statutory requirements. I'd start this exercise with, "who's asking for it and what is it they really want" inquiry.

    Best of luck.
    --ken
    ps: there's also an irony when folks are trying to share an event/information and their email footer tells you not to forward or share the content of the email.
    Ken Montenegro, JD
    Information Technology Director
    Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Los Angeles

    1145 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90017
    T: (213) 977-7500 (213) 241-0219
    C: (323) 545-4904
    F: (213) 977-7595
    advancingjustice-la.org
    Building upon the legacy of the
    Asian Pacific American Legal Center



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  • 4.  RE: Email disclaimer

    Posted Oct 25, 2017 13:22
    This is old and admittedly a bit condescending, but it’s a pretty robust summary of the arguments against email disclaimers:

    http://www.goldmark.org/jeff/stupid-disclaimers/

    This has been linked to from qmail.org (and often the qmail mailing list) for at least 15 years, but I think nearly all his points remain valid today.

    These also always seem to me like an attempt to solve an HR problem with technology, which simply cannot be done. E.g. a fancier timeclock won’t make people show up on time, or a strong password policy won’t prevent people from putting their password on a sticky note on their monitor.


    --joshua.


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  • 5.  RE: Email disclaimer

    Posted Oct 26, 2017 08:42
    ​Perhaps I should have prefaced my comments with an explanation that FSL is a HIPAA Covered Entity, and therefore, we do feel that it is best practice for us.
    Thanks,
    Grace

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    Grace Barry
    Director of Information Technology
    Family Service League
    Huntington, NY
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    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline


  • 6.  RE: Email disclaimer

    Posted Oct 27, 2017 09:10

    So I think the need for a disclaimer is a question for legal and HR. 

    If they want one i would recommend making it invisible to the user.  Every SPAM gateway I've ever used has had the option to add one, and from Google Apps you can do it from within the Administrator's console (Append Footer is what you're looking for).



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    Colin Boyle
    IT Director
    Manatee Community Action Agency
    Bradenton, FL
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