The recent resignation by Gen. David Petraeus due to an alleged email scandal brings to light one of my most common sense cyber security rules - think before you click. This should be a flashing neon light so that whenever there is content that may be offensive to others it should say, "are you sure?" I bet the woman who sent the incriminating emails would have changed her mind.
I agree there are fine lines between law enforcement, privacy rights (or lack thereof), and the ability to collect that information, which needs to be better defined. Agencies that are responsible for weeding out social and cyber criminals such as stalkers, online predators, and financial scammers need to have better defined guidelines and rules prior to searches of personal email, computers and mobile phones.
How do I keep my emails private? What do I do? I use digital certificates and digital encryption to secure my emails from being intercepted by third parties. I also use my digital signature to sign adobe documents and attachments which could be sensitive in nature, to ensure that the person to whom I sent the document can trust that I’m the one that sent it. By doing this it will also bind the document to them by requiring their digital certificate to open the document. Since our company uses Microsoft Exchange, we can also retract emails that may have been sent unintentionally.
Email is akin to photos on the Internet. Once they get loaded into the cyber "cloud," they are indelibly written into the pages of life. Once you send an email, most organizations retain the mail for 180 days, however, there is a legal audit procedure for large corporations known as"legal hold", which requires records retention for as many as 20 years.
That said, I have started a deletion policy of my own, I will store one year online, 1 year offline, and backup and destroy the rest. There are many other tips that I would also recommend for the more security conscious user, such as running a portable email program like Mozilla Thunderbird from a biometric fingerprint USB.