Under the provisions of Tennessee Code Annotated § 10-7-512 enacted by the General Assembly last year, counties who have electronic mail (e-mail) systems are required to have a policy on the monitoring of e-mail. This does not mean that you are required to systematically monitor e-mail communications, it just means that you must have a policy in place that explains the circumstances under which you may monitor e-mail communications within county offices that have e-mail. The policy can be something as simple as informing employees that their e-mail communications are not confidential, and that any e-mail that travels over the county’s system is subject to being examined at any time. The new law requires that you tell your employees that e-mail communications may be a public record under the public records law and may be subject to public inspection.
The statute requires that this policy be in place on or before July 1, 2000; however, there are no penalties imposed for failure to meet this deadline. We suggest that you put a policy in place as soon as you can.
Following is a sample policy:
Monitoring of Electronic Mail
Employees and officials of Volunteer County do not have any right to privacy in any electronic mail (e-mail) that travels over Volunteer County’s electronic mail system. All e-mail that travels over Volunteer County’s system is subject at any time to being examined by officials of Volunteer County and their designees. In addition, correspondence of Volunteer County employees and officials in the form of e-mail may be a public record under the public records law and may be subject to public inspection.
A copy of your policy should be given to each employee in your county. A good way to distribute the policy would be to include a copy in each employee’s payroll check, and then also send a copy by electronic mail.
If you have any questions, please contact your CTAS county government consultant.