Montreal will be paying Claude Dauphin $115,000 in the affair of the city comptroller reading his private emails. But since it’s an out-of-court settlement, it means the air hasn’t been cleared on why the comptroller – since relieved of his duties after carrying out a similar investigation on auditor-general Jacques Bergeron – felt it necessary to undertake such probing investigations in the first place.
The Gazette refers to the incident as hacking Dauphin’s emails, maybe on the model of the UK’s email hacking scandals that brought down the News of the World. But when someone at your place of work reads your email, first off they seldom have to “hack” anything, and secondly, quite often at some stage you’ve had to assent to the boss having access to your email anyway. I don’t know whether this would apply to elected officials, who may have more rights, but anyone using a corporate email account by now knows they have to be discreet in what they write. The contents are in some sense not really theirs, and are certainly not guaranteed to be securely private.
In any case, someone at your workplace does not have to “hack” into your mail – it’s a word best left for attacks from outside. Someone administering the system has a back door in, and there may be technicians and administrative assistants who know your password, if in fact you haven’t written it on a post-it and stuck it on your monitor. But “hack” sounds more exciting, I guess.