Data protection for e-mail communication: are content and address protected?

The most important facts about data protection in e-mail traffic in brief

  • The data protection E-mail addresses and content e-mail communication.
  • The disclosure, viewing or processing of this information is only certain conditions permissible.
  • A employer, which private or official e-mail communication is provided, this may do not monitor, must however comply with their Share contents, if a judicial decision is available.

More on this topic: Specific guides on data privacy in e-mail traffic

Data protection: Is e-mail monitoring allowed?

Contents and addresses of communication via e-mail are subject to data protection.

E-mail forwarding is also subject to data protection.

The Data protection for e-mails in Germany provides for a basic Data security with regard to contents but also to the e-mail addresses in front of. However, there is legal exceptions, in whose cases it is permissible to resort to both. There are several Provider, i.e. e-mail provider. According to data protection, they are obliged to communication of its users to the investigating authorities and to release the to be made available, when a judicial decision exists. Such a Authorization to track telecommunications content is regulated in the Telecommunications Surveillance Ordinance (TKuV).

Since also a mail address to the personal data it is subject to the Data protection. It is irrelevant whether this contains, for example, the full name of the addressee or whether it is a e-mail address without further personal data acts. This also means that, according to the data protection Protected from disclosure without certain legal basis is. Also a E-mail forwarding is subject to data protection as well as e-mail archiving.

Email marketing: On the privacy of online advertising

The regulations on data protection for promotional e-mails are changing.

On 25. May 2018, the new EU basic data protection regulation effective. Although it is largely based on German law it will also be changes in this country GIVE. The data privacy section at advertising e-mail communication will be partially modified. The Sending commercial e-mails will be easier in the future, but the Penalties for misuse of data are tightened at the same time; the fines increase significantly.

So far, only the use of so-called list data without specific consent of an existing customer is permitted. This includes the occupation, industry or business name, the name, title or academic degree, the address and the year of birth. The E-mail address may only be stored in such a list under certain conditions. A legitimate storage does not mean, however, that the address may also be used for advertising purposes. Because, independent of data protection, the e-mail address is also subject to the law of fair trading.

Accordingly E-mail advertising without explicit consent only permissible, if

  • products advertised to the customer originally purchased similar are and
  • before storage of the customer’s mail address to the intended advertising pointed out becomes.

Data protection for e-mail traffic states that the sending of advertising e-mails is inadmissible in the event of objection.

Additionally the company that uses mail addresses for advertising purposes must have its Logging of collection, so that proof is possible at any time. These rules will remain in place under the new data protection regulation. However, in the future, companies will find it easier to get a legitimate interest for direct marketing purposes enforced. This applies even if the data subject can foresee that possibly processing occurs; for example by Note in the "fine print".

However, it remains unchanged that in the case of a Objection of the person concerned who Sending of advertising e-mails inadmissible is. Thus it must already at the time of collection of his e-mail address are informed about this possibility and can object at any time. In contrast to the Federal Data Protection Act (BDSG), the Basic Data Protection Regulation For email traffic, a more far-reaching information obligation.

E-mail monitoring by the employer

Arbitrary or permanent e-mail monitoring at the workplace is not permitted.

A company as an employer can be instructed, the communication of its employees via the Internet or its to seize and surrender e-mails. This may be the case if, within a privacy policy the private use of mails agreed at the workplace.

Data protection measures do not apply, for example, if an employee is charged with a criminal offense illegal downloading of copyrighted works or even because of defamatory e-mails determined. Then, contrary to the data protection E-mail forwarding and release of the information ordered.

A permanent or arbitrary Workplace email monitoring on the part of the employer is nevertheless inadmissible. If a company e-mail address is used in addition to a private one, and the data protection company agreement provides for both, content from both may be not easily tracked and logged are. Also the E-mail forwarding in case of absence is subject to data protection. In the run-up Representative to be determined, the access to the e-mail communication of the colleague has.

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