Here's another reason to think twice before using work e-mail for personal business: If your employer becomes the subject of a federal investigation, your dirty laundry could be aired on the Internet.
That's what Enron employees are finding in the wake of the financial scandal that toppled the Houston-based company. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission collected troves of personal e-mails from Enron employees during its probe of the fallen energy giant and posted 1.6 million electronic exchanges and documents — personal and official — on a Web site.
The e-mails cover topics ranging from romantic affairs, personal complaints about families, funeral arrangements, and of course, the company's troubles.
Some of the e-mails, with sender and receiver information still attached, could prove to be embarrassing.
"I know you may or may not remember me, but I went to school with you," reads one e-mail sent to an Enron employee. "Never seemed to get your attention then, but I had the biggist freakin crush on you. [sic] That seems like a thousand years ago now. I hope you are well and that life is great."
Another e-mail written by a Portland, Ore., woman, asks an Enron energy trader: "So … you were looking for a one-night stand afterall … "
Skilling Was Once ‘Rocky’
The exposed e-mails were written between 2000 and 2002 and come from 176 current and former Enron executives and employees mainly involved in the company's power-trading operations.
The database of Enron e-mails was designed to help the public understand whether Enron helped generate and later profit from an energy shortage in California in 2000 and 2001, according to the FERC.
FERC first posted the database in March 2003. The e-mails included personal information of Enron employees including Social Security numbers and bank records in some cases. Two days after the database went online, Enron requested that some personal information be removed, particularly Social Security numbers.
A court order allowed Enron to identify e-mail it wanted removed, and FERC eventually took down 8 percent of the documents.
Among the e-mails that remain on the site include photographs of former chief executive Jeffrey Skilling sent to him by fraternity brothers at his alma mater Southern Methodist University. Skilling is seen wearing horn-rimmed glasses and gripping the lapels of his jacket. The e-mail refers to Skilling's college-era nickname: "Rocky."
Another e-mail sent by an Enron lawyer in May 2000 says: "This job is absolutely crazy. If you ever watch 'ER,' that is usually what my day looks like, only without all the blood."
First identified by The Wall Street Journal, the Web site is: www.ferc.gov/industries/electric/indus-act/wem/03-26-03-release.asp.