E-mail Footer Madness

by Conor Friedersdorf

I'll tell you what common practice I find insane, beyond engagements with diamond rings, the embarrassing movies Eddie Murphy has chosen for himself over the years, and Spain's failure to embrace the cuisine of its colonial offshoots: I object to the footers you find at the bottom of emails sent via corporate accounts. Here's an example from a few days ago, when I received a message from an employee of JP Morgan Chase, and found this at the bottom:

This communication is for informational purposes only. It is not intended as an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any financial instrument or as an official confirmation of any transaction. All market prices, data and other information are not warranted as to completeness or accuracy and are subject to change without notice. Any comments or statements made herein do not necessarily reflect those of JPMorgan Chase & Co., its subsidiaries and affiliates. This transmission may contain information that is privileged, confidential, legally privileged, and/or exempt from disclosure under applicable law. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any disclosure, copying, distribution, or use of the information contained herein (including any reliance thereon) is STRICTLY PROHIBITED. Although this transmission and any attachments are believed to be free of any virus or other defect that might affect any computer system into which it is received and opened, it is the responsibility of the recipient to ensure that it is virus free and no responsibility is accepted by JPMorgan Chase & Co., its subsidiaries and affiliates, as applicable, for any loss or damage arising in any way from its use. If you received this transmission in error, please immediately contact the sender and destroy the material in its entirety, whether in electronic or hard copy format. Thank you. Please refer to http://www.jpmorgan.com/pages/disclosures for disclosures relating to European legal entities.

I love that URL at the bottom, as if anyone in Internet history has ever read through that whole message and thought, "Ah, I think I'll click over and read the disclosures mandated in Europe!" This reminds me to post what Cory Doctorow once had in his signature (and might still):

READ CAREFULLY. By reading this email, you agree, on behalf of your employer, to release me from all obligations and waivers arising from any and all NON-NEGOTIATED  agreements, licenses, terms-of-service, shrinkwrap, clickwrap, browsewrap, confidentiality, non-disclosure, non-compete and acceptable use policies (”BOGUS AGREEMENTS”) that I have entered into with your employer, its partners, licensors, agents and assigns, in perpetuity, without prejudice to my ongoing rights and privileges. You further represent that you have the authority to release me from any BOGUS AGREEMENTS on behalf of your employer.

Ah, but what if the employer is in Europe?