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Let’s say I want to reach out to someone working in a company like Apple or Google. For example I have a girlfriend working in Apple and we broke up. Then I send an email to her work account with spicy details asking her to explain or to reconcile…… private stuff.

Is it legal or illegal for me to send this kind of email to my ex girlfriend’s work account?

If I send an email from my personal email, like Yahoo!, to her work's email is it ok?

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    It's hard to imagine it's illegal - this is done every day without consequence. But given the content you propose, I wonder if she'd be able to use the email to request a restraining order for protection against someone exhibiting irrational behavior. Nov 24 at 19:40
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    this really reads as "I'm stalking my ex, is it legal to do it like this?". I assume she blocked you from contacting her in other ways, that's why you are looking to do it like this. Just leave it man. If she doesn't want you to contact her you have to respect that. Also keep in mind that company emails are NEVER private. There are always system administrators or other people able to read everything, and the content of your message might cost her her job Nov 25 at 7:47
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    @IvoBeckers That's not the case everywhere, e.g. in France emails that are clearly marked private or personal cannot be accessed by the employer, even if using a professional email and computer. Of course, legally private and actually private may be different things, so it's still good practice to keep important personal stuff separated. Nov 25 at 10:27
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    @AmiralPatate I worked as a sysadmin in France long enough to know that nobody respects that. I refused many times to give access to such emails just to see the boss ask another admin the same thing. As you mention, if you want to keep something private, just keep it off your work-related stuff.
    – ereOn
    Nov 25 at 18:09
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    "For example I have a girlfriend working in Apple and we broke up." You broke up, so she is not your girlfriend.
    – user41893
    Nov 26 at 16:15
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No, it is not illegal. The company has no standing to punish you for that.

Companies can't sue random people for sending random email... that was largely settled under the (YOU)-CAN-SPAM Act, when in the guise of standardizing US anti-spam laws, spam was largely legalized and state laws were pre-empted and barred from existing.

However, all the other laws still apply

Laws on harassment, for instance. Sometimes people with mental illness think another human "owes them" a relationship (which kind of misses the point of what a relationship is, but never mind that). And those people, who sadly are an all-too-common cliché, tend to act badly in very predictable ways. As such, we have plenty of laws on the books (and plenty of family court judges who have seen it all) to dispense consequences to the misbehavior and protection to the victim.

All those laws really don't care in which medium one might violate them: sky-writing, naval light signal, email, whatever.

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  • Isn't CAN-SPAM Act concerning marketing / advertisement, which a private e-mail to an acquaintance isn't anyway? I mean, when I write to my ex, I usually don't send her an "unsubscribe" link :) Nov 26 at 22:26
  • @DmitryGrigoryev CAN-SPAM was a hot mess of a law, designed mainly to prevent states from installing actually competent laws. I think it could be bent to this purpose. But as said, that presumes there's nothing else illegal in the message. The 1st Amendment still applies: the government is really, really on their back foot to prohibit speech generally. Nov 27 at 19:46
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Jurisdiction:

There is nothing in law that makes sending an email to a company's account unlawful - it is the content and the sender's intent that may commit an offence: the more common ones being stalking and/or harassment, and sending a malicious communication.

That said, it will depend on the particular circumstances, such as whether the receiptient has made it clear they don't want any more contact and what is meant by "spicy details" and "private stuff" for example.

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Sending the email with personal content to a corporate email account would not generally be illegal, depending obviously on jurisdiction but not anywhere I'm aware of.

However, the content of the email as you describe it could be considered harassment, extortion, and/or defamation which would make sending (and possibly creating) the email a criminal act regardless of the recipient address or server.

The recipient (probably assisted by their company's legal and HR teams) would have grounds to file criminal charges against you which would go way and beyond any civil lawsuits over sending email to someone who doesn't want to communicate with you ever could.

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    In most jurisdictions, only the State/district Attorney can file criminal charges. Harassment is a Civil matter, as in, between two citizens.
    – Trish
    Nov 25 at 10:45
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    @Trish I'm not sure where you're generalising from, but harassment of an ex-partner falls into the category of gender-based violence and is a criminal matter in many countries, especially the UK and much of Europe.
    – Graham
    Nov 25 at 14:26
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    "most jurisdictions" and "State/district Attorney" sounds incompatible to me. Isn't that just a US job title? Nov 25 at 16:40
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    @MartinSmith Staatsanwaltschaft (german) is literally "state attorney" in translation, French would be advocate générale and so on - the meaning is the attorney or lawyer that is acting on behalf of the governmental body. The civil person can generally bring something to the attention of them, and then said attorney brings the criminal charges, representing the state's interest of upholding order. At times, the civil person can appear in the same trial as an added party on the side of that attorney.
    – Trish
    Nov 25 at 19:29
  • @Trish either the company or the ex can go to the police and file a report, this will then lead to a police investigation which will likely lead to an arrest. Police may need a prosecutor or judge to sign off on the arrest warrant but in most of Europe that's more a formality than anything. That's how police can arrest someone they see committing a crime too, they can arrest you on their own without first asking for permission from a prosecutor (though yes, that's now idiotically changing in the US, leading to many criminals getting away under the nose of the police).
    – jwenting
    Nov 26 at 8:49
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Sending the email is not illegal.

But keep in mind that in many companies, especially larger ones, any and all email that an employee sends or receives in a corporate account may be read by company systems or people without the employee's specific knowledge. That includes

  • automatic spam and virus filtering
  • management looking for signs of problems (of many different types)
  • systems to monitor compliance with government regulations (e.g., against insider trading, sensitive information transfer to outside sources, etc.)
  • employees covering for others (e.g., Alice is on vacation but her job is critical and some people email her directly instead of support@ so she auto-forwards all her email to Bob so that he can catch any problems while she is out), etc. So anything you send to your ex-girlfriend could be read by many different people.

In other words, with corporate email there is no expectation of privacy.

In some companies, personal email on a corporate account is either technically forbidden (but allowed within reason as long as it is not disruptive) or is specifically limited (e.g., personal only, no messages regarding other employment even if it is not in conflict with the employee's contract and position, no discussion of company business with outsiders, etc.) As a result, while your ex-girlfriend will likely receive your messages, she might have employment related reasons to not respond, even if she has responded via corporate email in the past.

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