[thelist] Outlook feature that can bite back

James Aylard evolt at pixelwright.com
Thu May 6 11:52:51 CDT 2004

Michael Pemberton wrote:

> Am I correct that there is a feature that allows you to modify the
> contents of an email that you have received?  If so, is it a common
> practise to use this feature?

    Yes, there is such a feature, but I don't know how commonly it is used.

> She had obviously tried to use the email's subject as a method of
> keeping notes.  As more and more people are using email as a legal
> document, can anyone explain an advantage to this feature of modifying
> an email *after* it has been recieved from another party?

    Some advantages: fixing URLs that have wrapped and broken, making notes
within the email for future reference, updating automated sign-up emails
that contain a username and password once the password is changed, etc.
Whether any of these practices are considered acceptable or desirable,
individuals may disagree.
    The potential downside of such a feature is relatively obvious. But I
would guess that the same result is probably possible, in some form or
another, with virtually any mail client -- at a minimum by simply copying
the text from an existing email into a new email and modifying it there, or
by hacking its database file with a text editor, etc. Anyone who uses email
for formal legal agreements, if that is even legally acceptable, is taking a
huge risk regardless of the email client involved. Email is simply not a
secure medium.

James Aylard

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