[lug] off topic email question

karl horlen horlenkarl at yahoo.com
Wed Feb 27 18:33:52 MST 2008


I really appreciate you sharing your experience. 

> A nightly backup of the mail spool on a server would
> be largely useless.  

I've often thought it would for all the reasons you
state.  But you helped confirm the logic.

> Thus, in order to truly capture and backup every
> message, something 
> needs to be done at the MTA level.  I happen to use

> I don't do that.

Lot of overhead.  Agreed.

> First, I believe strongly in the privacy of my
> customers.  I have no 
> reason to store messages that may contain personal
> information, private 
> conversations, proprietary business data, etc.  

You're my kind of ISP.. feel like plugging your
company at all? :-)

> Second, if I'm storing messages beyond the usual
> deliver-and-download 
> process, I incur a liability to protect and manage
> that data.  

Would you be able to say more about how this works
from a legal standpoint?  Is what you state true the
minute you as an ISP start storing email outside of
pop/imap delivery, meaning it's implicit liability? 
Or does a written contract have to explicitly state
that you are liable?

I'm imagining ISPs that provide email for corp clients
who want to store the email of employees for a variety
of reasons must sign explicit contracts to specify or
release liability.  As an ISP, i would not want that
responsibility on my hands.  

Assuming an average
> business user sends 10 
> messages per day, and each message is 20kB, and I
> have a thousand 
> users, I'm amassing 200MB of archived mail every
> day.  And everyone 
> knows 10 x 20kB messages is on the low end. :) 
> Disks are cheap, but 
> that adds up.

Math puts it in perspective quickly.

> witch hunts.  If someone comes to me and demands the
> last 30 days of 
> e-mail from a customer account, I can honestly say I
> don't have it.  It 
> protects the customer, and it gives me plausible
> deniability.

Brilliant.  What's your company again ;-)

> That being said, I believe there are federal laws
> that *require* the 
> government to archive all e-mail messages to elected
> officials.  They 
> can't really use any of the reasons I've mentioned
> here-- they *must* 
> implement mechanisms to copy all messages and
> archive them to backup 

That's my assessment.  I wonder if anybody has a
definite answer to that one?

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