I was about to hit "send" on an email last week when I paused. The email was fine for the recipients, but what if it was forwarded by one of the recipients? It contained confidential information, so I saved it as a draft and decided to think about it for a while.
Around that time I began listening to the audiobook version of Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul. The author, Howard Schultz, writes about a confidential email that was forwarded to a Starbucks gossip site. He writes:
Staring at the screen, I was speechless. Not because my criticisms were now public. What upset me, what felt like a blow to my gut, was the leak. I could not imagine who would do such a thing.
It was nothing less than a betrayal.
One of the lessons: Never assume that something you write in an email will stay confidential. Assume it will get out there, and write accordingly. As the book says, "Nothing is confidential."
This caused me to reflect on Christian leaders who have recently seen years worth of email correspondence leaked on the Internet. Could my email archives withstand such scrutiny?
You could argue that we faced the same problems before when confidential documents could be photocopied and passed around. But I'm sensing we're facing new challenges related to new technologies and the mindsets that go along with them. I've never heard of photocopies going viral, for instance.
We now minister in a Wikileaks world.
Have you had this happen to you? How do you handle situations when you're about to send a confidential email?