Starmer dumps doormat?

Andrew Cormack Andrew.Cormack at
Wed Jan 19 13:37:22 GMT 2011

> -----Original Message-----
> From: ukcrypto-bounces at [mailto:ukcrypto-
> bounces at] On Behalf Of Roland Perry
> Sent: 19 January 2011 10:02
> To: ukcrypto at
> Subject: Re: Starmer dumps doormat?
> Several years ago I also wrote a mini-paper about the situation in
> places like an office, where a "boss" (sorry for the stereotyping)
> diverts his phone and voicemail to a secretary, and therefore the first
> person to get (and listen to) them is not the intended recipient. Make
> that in spades when it's the secretary who sets up the diversion on her
> own initiative. [nb in these scenarios, the recipient can be argued to
> have given permission, but the sender hasn't; and many corporates use
> what are in effect public networks as a virtual PABX, so it's not
> necessarily being done on a private network either.

Did you consider the possibility that in that scenario the secretary may actually be acting as a legal agent for the boss? It was discussed on another list last year where we concluded that if the secretary wasn't the "intended recipient" then there was no way out of the conclusion that they were acting unlawfully, because of the requirement for both parties to have consented.

None of us knew the law of agency in detail (and I haven't had time since to look it up). But it seemed that if that resulted in the secretary acting *as* the boss for a particular subset of his work then the secretary/boss *is* the intended recipient and the interception problem goes away. That seemed a reasonable fit for the paper-based world where, if I get a letter signed "pp CEO" then I treat it as coming from the CEO, even though it's very obvious that it hasn't. It also seemed to make it the boss's responsibility to define the extent of actions for which the secretary could act as agent, and if the boss doesn't make that clear then it's their problem and not the secretary's. It seemed a bit unfair to us if the poor secretary carried the can for misinterpreting unclear instructions, which seems to be another consequence of trying to justify it as interception-with-consent :(


Andrew Cormack, Chief Regulatory Adviser, JANET(UK)
Lumen House, Library Avenue, Harwell, Didcot. OX11 0SG UK
Phone: +44 (0) 1235 822302

JANET, the UK's education and research network

JANET(UK) is a trading name of The JNT Association, a company limited
by guarantee which is registered in England under No. 2881024
and whose Registered Office is at Lumen House, Library Avenue,
Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, Didcot, Oxfordshire. OX11 0SG

More information about the ukcrypto mailing list