China Business, Internet

China: The Walls Have Ears

China compliance enforcement

China is watching you. . . .[/caption]

I am convinced about 99.9% of all emails go through. But to me, that means at least one email I send per day will not reach its destination. If I do not hear back from someone rather quickly, I just assume they did not get my email and I send it again. In other words, I assume the worst.

I have a similar attitude regarding my privacy when in China. I assume my hotel room is bugged and my Internet is monitored. I assume the worst and I take every measure I can to be careful. I know people will laugh at my “paranoia,” but I have plenty of stories to tell involving people who were not careful about their data:

  • Many years ago, I was staying on the business floor of the Lotte Hotel in Busan, Korea. This floor has a couple of computers for its guests. I got on one of those computers (to read the news) and the first thing that popped up was a letter written by a Seattle company revealing information I know they would not have wanted me (or anyone else) to see. Someone from this company had written this letter on the computer (in Word format) and simply left it there. Not smart.
  • Many times I have gotten on the internet at an airport computer and been let right into someone’s web-mail account. Not smart.
  • A couple years ago, I found a memory stick in the desk drawer of my hotel in Shanghai that contained an incredible amount of information on a European plastics company. Not smart.
  • A stockbroker I know was sent an email by a rival stockbroker, urging my stockbroker friend to oppose some proposed law that would strike hard at those with massive net worth. The stockbroker who sent this email cc’ed it to a half dozen or so of his clients. My friend figured the clients were people with the requisite massive net worth and so he cold-called them for their business. He ended up getting a great client with this tactic. Not smart.
  • Many years ago, a client of ours discovered an employee was running a rival business within my client’s business. My client then arranged for this employee to bring his two company laptops to the office. When the employee went to lunch, the locks were changed and he was locked out. You would not even believe the stuff we found on those laptops. I am talking both business and personal. Very, very personal. Not smart.
  • A number of my firm’s Russian clients will not discuss anything of any import over the phone or via email. They will only discuss things in my office and, for the even more paranoid, only while we are out walking if the matter is of extreme secrecy. They still see themselves operating under the Soviet system, no matter where they are.

I thought of data protection today after reading a fascinating New York Times article, Britain Warned Businesses of Threat of Chinese Spying. True or not (and I have no way to know), this article ought to chill you at least a bit. It talks about a 2008 report from Britain’s M15 intelligence agency, setting out the following:

Officers from the People’s Liberation Army and the Ministry of Public Security had approached British businesspeople at trade fairs and exhibitions with offers of “gifts” that included cameras and computer memory sticks that were found to contain bugs that provided the Chinese with remote access to the recipients’ computers. “There have been cases where these ‘gifts’ have contained Trojan devices and other types of malware.”

The MI5 report described how China’s computer hacking campaign had attacked British defense, energy, communications and manufacturing companies, as well as public relations companies and international law firms. The document explicitly warned British executives dealing with China against so-called honey trap methods in which it said the Chinese tried to cultivate personal relationships, “often using lavish hospitality and flattery,” either within China or abroad.

“Chinese intelligence services have also been known to exploit vulnerabilities such as sexual relationships and illegal activities to pressurize individuals to cooperate with them,” it warned. “Hotel rooms in major Chinese cities such as Beijing and Shanghai which have been frequented by foreigners are likely to be bugged. Hotel rooms have been searched while the occupants are out of the room.”

I have absolutely no proof that anything like the above has ever happened to me or to anyone else in China, but is anyone out there certain these sorts of things are not happening to them? How do you handle these issues?

UPDATE: Two more stories. The BBC did a story of how Germany paid big money for data illegally mined from a big Swiss Bank. Germany is thinking it worth it to pay 2.5 million Euros for data that will allow them to capture more than 100 million Euros in tax cheating.

The other story was one of which I was reminded by an old client of mine. Many years ago, I was going to a particular city in a former Communist country and my client and I agreed that, above all else, I should completely avoid meeting with or even talking to “Oleg” [made up name here]. I had to go to this city, but I was going to be there for only two days. I fly in, walk into my hotel lobby and, before I can even check in, two people come up to me and tell me Oleg will be coming by to take me to dinner at 7:00 pm. I felt I had no choice at that point but to meet with Oleg and I did. When I asked Oleg how he knew of my arrival, he said he gets emailed the list of all foreigners as soon as they arrive at the airport. Oleg runs a very successful private business.

FURTHER UPDATE: An international lawyer I know who lives in China and someone I have every reason to trust, sent me the following email, which I have modified slightly to erase any possibility of anyone being able to trace it back to its source:

Some Chinese companies own their own hotels or have very close relationships with a particular local hotel and contractually require foreign parties stay in one of these hotels at a special rate.

Any attempt to arrange different accommodations is met with strict and swift countermeasures. Penalty clauses in the contract are brought up. If you do find other accommodations they will absolutely not pay for them.

Why? All telephone calls are recorded. I have actually been in the room used by one of these companies as it’s actually not all that difficult to get into.

All of the “photocopies” made at the hotel are scanned and saved. Colleagues would leave their notebooks in the meeting room at lunch, “locked.” These notebooks’ hard-drives were removed and cloned.

Once, a foreigner locked horns with someone at a big Chinese company and ended up in jail on a prostitution sting. Dan, don’t get me wrong, I am against prostitution, but this guy was not doing anything any differently from what he (and others) had been doing all along. In this instance the “prostitutes” were in fact not prostitutes. The girl’s room was camera’ed out. It is very, very, very rare for someone to be arrested in China for soliciting. This person subsequently got out on greatly reduced charges and I have to believe that was in return for his agreeing to start going along more with the Chinese company.

I will note that I have a very savvy client who absolutely refuses to stay in any hotel recommended by those with whom he does business and who always books his hotels on his own, without revealing where he will be staying. Probably a pretty good policy.

FURTHER FURTHER UPDATE: The Asia Health Care Blog has done a follow-up post, entitled, China: The walls have ears there, and probably everywhere else, [link no longer exists] saying I am not being paranoid enough and that I should be paranoid everywhere I am and at all times. My response to that is that I am, but because this is a China blog. . . .

FURTHER FURTHER FURTHER UPDATE: Reader sent me this link to a pretty recent article, Boris Johnson’s deputy: “I had sex with a Chinese spy”.

48 responses to “China: The Walls Have Ears”

  1. “A number of my firm’s Russian clients will not discuss anything of any import over the phone or via email. They will only discuss things in my office and, for the even more paranoid, only over at lunch at a restaurant if the matter is of extreme secrecy. They still see themselves operating under the Soviet system, no matter where they are.”
    I think these are good precautions wherever you are from/in the world.

  2. The caution one exhibits in China, Korea, Russia, or any other country not waving an American or EU game should not be any different from what one does everywhere else.
    Identity theft and surveillance is a reality no matter where you go: and identity theft is currently the fastest growing crime, in the developed world. There are certainly differences in the level of surveillance one can expect from nation to nation, but these are not as great as differences in perception.
    China has the CCP, the PLA and it’s special units, America has the Patriot Act, the DHS, the FBI, CIA, and it’s special units, Europe has Interpol and its special units…depending on who you are and what national/ideological interests you represent, the level of paranoia you feel in each of these countries is sure to vary significantly. Perhaps, in the past, this sort of relative fear was justified since global affairs of policy and economy were much more fragmented. Today, countries’ interests have been blurred together by the whirlwind of a computer driven, hyperpaced, 24/7 economy. Paradoxically, in this environment, the perceived need for surveillance has increased because now even slight advantages in negotiations can lead to lucrative gains in the fast paced trading world. So it is no longer just enough to have selective information surveillance; it is important to have omnipresent information surveillance since one never knows what could be important.
    Given that having as much information as possible is now more important to everyone, it is not enough to be vigilant with one’s information when traveling abroad to a region of the world that has traditionally been a rival of one’s home country. It is obvious, perhaps, but not enough.
    Who is more likely to trap the fly with honey? Someone that the fly is already cautious of? Or someone that the fly is perfectly comfortable with?

  3. If the Chinese weren’t doing these things, they’d be stupid to miss the chance. It is various laws, and threat of punishment, that keeps things like this from happening on a much larger scale here and in western Europe. Freed from such constraints, Chinese “info gatherers” can do what they must.
    So this is what a “honey trap” involves, eh? I’d only been familiar with “honey hole”… mmmmm, catfish…

  4. @ Damjan D
    “Dan, seems like there is a consensus forming that you reside on the low rung of the paranoid scale…”
    Maybe a consensus of one, or two if twofish is included. China has already shown its hand with the blatant hack attacks on global company email systems. And China is run by control freaks, the paranoid and a “mandate of Heaven” complex.

  5. “A number of my firm’s Russian clients will not discuss anything of any import over the phone or via email. They will only discuss things in my office and, for the even more paranoid, only over at lunch at a restaurant if the matter is of extreme secrecy. They still see themselves operating under the Soviet system, no matter where they are.”
    I think these are good precautions wherever you are from/in the world.

  6. The caution one exhibits in China, Korea, Russia, or any other country not waving an American or EU game should not be any different from what one does everywhere else.
    Identity theft and surveillance is a reality no matter where you go: and identity theft is currently the fastest growing crime, in the developed world. There are certainly differences in the level of surveillance one can expect from nation to nation, but these are not as great as differences in perception.
    China has the CCP, the PLA and it’s special units, America has the Patriot Act, the DHS, the FBI, CIA, and it’s special units, Europe has Interpol and its special units…depending on who you are and what national/ideological interests you represent, the level of paranoia you feel in each of these countries is sure to vary significantly. Perhaps, in the past, this sort of relative fear was justified since global affairs of policy and economy were much more fragmented. Today, countries’ interests have been blurred together by the whirlwind of a computer driven, hyperpaced, 24/7 economy. Paradoxically, in this environment, the perceived need for surveillance has increased because now even slight advantages in negotiations can lead to lucrative gains in the fast paced trading world. So it is no longer just enough to have selective information surveillance; it is important to have omnipresent information surveillance since one never knows what could be important.
    Given that having as much information as possible is now more important to everyone, it is not enough to be vigilant with one’s information when traveling abroad to a region of the world that has traditionally been a rival of one’s home country. It is obvious, perhaps, but not enough.
    Who is more likely to trap the fly with honey? Someone that the fly is already cautious of? Or someone that the fly is perfectly comfortable with?

  7. @ casual observer
    I don’t quite understand why you’re trying to counter my point by agreeing with me.
    “Maybe a consensus of one, or two if twofish is included. China has already shown its hand with the blatant hack attacks on global company email systems. And China is run by control freaks, the paranoid and a “mandate of Heaven” complex.”
    Again, being paranoid in China “is obvious, perhaps, but not enough.”

  8. Hey, its Charles! The pro-CCP guy who lives in Seattle and has never been to China. So where is this Great US Firewall?
    Why is it that I can look up so much anti-anything political, stuff on how to make weapons, bombs, explosives, etc here in the US?
    Yes, its all a delusion created by the masterminds at the CIA/NSA, the same crew that can’t stop AQ or the Taliban with hundreds of billions in high tech snooping gear.

  9. If the Chinese weren’t doing these things, they’d be stupid to miss the chance. It is various laws, and threat of punishment, that keeps things like this from happening on a much larger scale here and in western Europe. Freed from such constraints, Chinese “info gatherers” can do what they must.
    So this is what a “honey trap” involves, eh? I’d only been familiar with “honey hole”… mmmmm, catfish…

  10. @ Damjan D
    “Dan, seems like there is a consensus forming that you reside on the low rung of the paranoid scale…”
    Maybe a consensus of one, or two if twofish is included. China has already shown its hand with the blatant hack attacks on global company email systems. And China is run by control freaks, the paranoid and a “mandate of Heaven” complex.

  11. @ casual observer
    I don’t quite understand why you’re trying to counter my point by agreeing with me.
    “Maybe a consensus of one, or two if twofish is included. China has already shown its hand with the blatant hack attacks on global company email systems. And China is run by control freaks, the paranoid and a “mandate of Heaven” complex.”
    Again, being paranoid in China “is obvious, perhaps, but not enough.”

  12. When I taught at a university in China, I discovered a hidden microphone in the lectern in my classroom. The microphone was carefully tucked away, but the wire was exposed when I tried to move the lectern to make room for a class activity.
    I never knew why they needed to bug my classroom, but it reminded me of an experience a friend had while teaching at another university. He made the mistake of discussing a sensitive late 80s event. The school administration then held an assembly and denounced my friend as a CIA operative. No joke.
    An American guy who works for my uncle’s company was detained for several days at a “hotel” in China. The guy was supposed to attend an environmental meeting, but when he got off the plane, he was “escorted” to this hotel and forced to stay there until the date for his meeting had passed. He speculates that his email was monitored or that a Chinese worker from inside the Shanghai office reported his plans. He never reported it because he wants to keep doing business in China.
    Right before the Beijing Olympics, a friend of mine who is half black and half white was held and questioned after trying to check into a hotel in Shanghai. They thought she was from Xinjiang or something. She had left her passport at her apartment in a nearby city, and her husband had to take a train back to that city and retrieve the passport before she was let go.

  13. Hey, its Charles! The pro-CCP guy who lives in Seattle and has never been to China. So where is this Great US Firewall?
    Why is it that I can look up so much anti-anything political, stuff on how to make weapons, bombs, explosives, etc here in the US?
    Yes, its all a delusion created by the masterminds at the CIA/NSA, the same crew that can’t stop AQ or the Taliban with hundreds of billions in high tech snooping gear.

  14. When I taught at a university in China, I discovered a hidden microphone in the lectern in my classroom. The microphone was carefully tucked away, but the wire was exposed when I tried to move the lectern to make room for a class activity.
    I never knew why they needed to bug my classroom, but it reminded me of an experience a friend had while teaching at another university. He made the mistake of discussing a sensitive late 80s event. The school administration then held an assembly and denounced my friend as a CIA operative. No joke.
    An American guy who works for my uncle’s company was detained for several days at a “hotel” in China. The guy was supposed to attend an environmental meeting, but when he got off the plane, he was “escorted” to this hotel and forced to stay there until the date for his meeting had passed. He speculates that his email was monitored or that a Chinese worker from inside the Shanghai office reported his plans. He never reported it because he wants to keep doing business in China.
    Right before the Beijing Olympics, a friend of mine who is half black and half white was held and questioned after trying to check into a hotel in Shanghai. They thought she was from Xinjiang or something. She had left her passport at her apartment in a nearby city, and her husband had to take a train back to that city and retrieve the passport before she was let go.

  15. @anonymous this time as well:
    When you taught at a university in China, you did not notice that the lecterns in your classrooms did not contain embedded microphones because you did not have the observational skills necessary to notice that the lecterns in your classrooms had microphones embedded flush with the surface of said lecterns. The microphones were there not to spy on you, but so that your voice could be broadcast over a PA system allowing all your students to hear what you had to say without you having to shout. I do remember the day when such things were rare, but it’s been a long time since I saw a classroom without such a set-up. And classrooms are not set up this way to keep tabs on foreign teachers (really, we’re not that important) or even teachers in general, but to improve educational outcomes.
    Your friend who was denounced as a CIA operative was denounced because he (she?) had the arrogance to presume he knew what happened in that late ’80s event. Anybody with the honesty and self-awareness necessary to assess such experiences will admit that it is not possible to know what actually transpired that evening, at least, not in any kind of detail.
    Your half black/half white friend was detained for travelling without her passport. Chinese law requires all foreigners within China to have their passport on them at all times (and all Chinese over the age of 18 to have their ID cards on them at all times, I believe – please correct me if I am wrong on either of these points). She was not held and questioned because anybody thought she was from anywhere, but because, having no legally valid ID on her person, she was travelling illegally.

  16. It happens to everyone. The ‘tell all’ account by Prince Charles’ former secretary mentions an incident when HRH was visiting Beijing in the 1990s. An intruder was discovered in the staff’s hotel room in the early hours, attempting to access their computer. The Chinese side just acted as if it never happened.

  17. You really need to be careful about data. There are some pretty simple things that you can do to increase data security (encrypt your hard disks). Also it’s a good idea not to be too “threat focused”. If you put a lock on your door, it’s not to prevent a specific thief from getting in but rather to make it hard for thieves in general from getting in.

  18. @anonymous this time as well:
    When you taught at a university in China, you did not notice that the lecterns in your classrooms did not contain embedded microphones because you did not have the observational skills necessary to notice that the lecterns in your classrooms had microphones embedded flush with the surface of said lecterns. The microphones were there not to spy on you, but so that your voice could be broadcast over a PA system allowing all your students to hear what you had to say without you having to shout. I do remember the day when such things were rare, but it’s been a long time since I saw a classroom without such a set-up. And classrooms are not set up this way to keep tabs on foreign teachers (really, we’re not that important) or even teachers in general, but to improve educational outcomes.
    Your friend who was denounced as a CIA operative was denounced because he (she?) had the arrogance to presume he knew what happened in that late ’80s event. Anybody with the honesty and self-awareness necessary to assess such experiences will admit that it is not possible to know what actually transpired that evening, at least, not in any kind of detail.
    Your half black/half white friend was detained for travelling without her passport. Chinese law requires all foreigners within China to have their passport on them at all times (and all Chinese over the age of 18 to have their ID cards on them at all times, I believe – please correct me if I am wrong on either of these points). She was not held and questioned because anybody thought she was from anywhere, but because, having no legally valid ID on her person, she was travelling illegally.

  19. It happens to everyone. The ‘tell all’ account by Prince Charles’ former secretary mentions an incident when HRH was visiting Beijing in the 1990s. An intruder was discovered in the staff’s hotel room in the early hours, attempting to access their computer. The Chinese side just acted as if it never happened.

  20. I pretty seriously doubt that the microphone in the lectern was something nefarious, simply because if someone really were trying to keep tabs on you, they wouldn’t bother with wires, and they certainly wouldn’t but the microphone in the lectern.
    If the security authorities thought that you were a person of interest, then presumably they wouldn’t have to worry about wiretaps can could go super low-tech and just send in a student to the lecture to take notes.
    Also when someone gives a lecture, they are giving it to students, and if any of the students very strongly disagree with the contents, then they can report things to the university administration.
    The problem with being paranoid is that paranoids end up being paranoid about the wrong thing.

  21. Michael: An intruder was discovered in the staff’s hotel room in the early hours, attempting to access their computer. The Chinese side just acted as if it never happened.
    And curiously enough so did the British.

  22. Sorry Chriswaughbj, it’s pretty dumb to suggest that denouncing someone as a CIA operative is okay because they spoke publicly about something, whether you think their opinion (which the poster didn’t reveal) ill-informed or not. In fact, the poster never mentioned how this “sensitive event” was discussed at all, so what assumptions are you operating on? “Honesty” and “self-awareness” are not usually required when speaking about events, no matter how little you think anyone knows about them.
    What a strange thing to be an apologist for. Were they serving grape or orange kool-aid at the picnic?

  23. You really need to be careful about data. There are some pretty simple things that you can do to increase data security (encrypt your hard disks). Also it’s a good idea not to be too “threat focused”. If you put a lock on your door, it’s not to prevent a specific thief from getting in but rather to make it hard for thieves in general from getting in.

  24. I pretty seriously doubt that the microphone in the lectern was something nefarious, simply because if someone really were trying to keep tabs on you, they wouldn’t bother with wires, and they certainly wouldn’t but the microphone in the lectern.
    If the security authorities thought that you were a person of interest, then presumably they wouldn’t have to worry about wiretaps can could go super low-tech and just send in a student to the lecture to take notes.
    Also when someone gives a lecture, they are giving it to students, and if any of the students very strongly disagree with the contents, then they can report things to the university administration.
    The problem with being paranoid is that paranoids end up being paranoid about the wrong thing.

  25. Michael: An intruder was discovered in the staff’s hotel room in the early hours, attempting to access their computer. The Chinese side just acted as if it never happened.
    And curiously enough so did the British.

  26. Sorry Chriswaughbj, it’s pretty dumb to suggest that denouncing someone as a CIA operative is okay because they spoke publicly about something, whether you think their opinion (which the poster didn’t reveal) ill-informed or not. In fact, the poster never mentioned how this “sensitive event” was discussed at all, so what assumptions are you operating on? “Honesty” and “self-awareness” are not usually required when speaking about events, no matter how little you think anyone knows about them.
    What a strange thing to be an apologist for. Were they serving grape or orange kool-aid at the picnic?

  27. I recommend reading “Spies Among Us” by Ira Winkler if you want to know more about what the Chinese, Russians and French do in economic spying – and how to prevent it. From personal experience I know that the Chinese PLA can copy everything on your computer by just getting close to it. Still, I caught them twice.

  28. Have you ever noticed the little microphones in the taxis in Beijing? They usually are found in the corner of the roof. Beijing says they are there to monitor dangers to the taxi drivers – but even if you believe that just think how handy they are for monitoring backseat discussions.

  29. Spy vs spy!lol. This recalls an anecdote told by an American history prof who came visiting last Chinese New Year with his partner.
    It’s about two operatives from a certain country that had just established diplomatic relations with China decades ago.
    Both queens were in a catfight.(You wonder how they received clearance in those days.)
    Anyway, Spy A tried to out Spy B (as a spy, not about being gay). Unfortunately, Spy B had higher clearance and outed A instead.
    B went on to employment in some capacity with the Chinese government and was paid with …antiques. (China still relatively poor then and didn’t want the junk anyway during CR).
    Now lives like a queen (appropriately) in a property filled with museum-worthy curios, including himself.
    But – who did he actually work for, in the end?
    LOL..everyone spies on everyone! Now excuse me while I change into my trenchcoat and try to transfix an unsuspecting Westerner with my beguiling gaze from beneath eyelash extensions.

  30. as a visiting student at a top two university in china, i returned to my dorm to find the bottom of my laptop (specifically the panel to open the hard drive), with one edge that slides inside out. the screw was not missing, it was tight, so it appeared clearly that it had been opened and someone had hastily screwed it back in with the one edge not slid inside. i still assume something was done to it, but would like to find out a way to find out for sure.

  31. I recommend reading “Spies Among Us” by Ira Winkler if you want to know more about what the Chinese, Russians and French do in economic spying – and how to prevent it. From personal experience I know that the Chinese PLA can copy everything on your computer by just getting close to it. Still, I caught them twice.

  32. Have you ever noticed the little microphones in the taxis in Beijing? They usually are found in the corner of the roof. Beijing says they are there to monitor dangers to the taxi drivers – but even if you believe that just think how handy they are for monitoring backseat discussions.

  33. Spy vs spy!lol. This recalls an anecdote told by an American history prof who came visiting last Chinese New Year with his partner.
    It’s about two operatives from a certain country that had just established diplomatic relations with China decades ago.
    Both queens were in a catfight.(You wonder how they received clearance in those days.)
    Anyway, Spy A tried to out Spy B (as a spy, not about being gay). Unfortunately, Spy B had higher clearance and outed A instead.
    B went on to employment in some capacity with the Chinese government and was paid with …antiques. (China still relatively poor then and didn’t want the junk anyway during CR).
    Now lives like a queen (appropriately) in a property filled with museum-worthy curios, including himself.
    But – who did he actually work for, in the end?
    LOL..everyone spies on everyone! Now excuse me while I change into my trenchcoat and try to transfix an unsuspecting Westerner with my beguiling gaze from beneath eyelash extensions.

  34. as a visiting student at a top two university in china, i returned to my dorm to find the bottom of my laptop (specifically the panel to open the hard drive), with one edge that slides inside out. the screw was not missing, it was tight, so it appeared clearly that it had been opened and someone had hastily screwed it back in with the one edge not slid inside. i still assume something was done to it, but would like to find out a way to find out for sure.

  35. Dan, all this stuff is very real–you’re not paranoid. That’s why working as a corporate investigator is so lucrative in China…
    Btw, many large MNCs do deploy (or hire firms that can) a variety of technical surveillance countermeasures, particularly in China and other countries in which economic espionage is par for the course.

  36. Dan, all this stuff is very real–you’re not paranoid. That’s why working as a corporate investigator is so lucrative in China…
    Btw, many large MNCs do deploy (or hire firms that can) a variety of technical surveillance countermeasures, particularly in China and other countries in which economic espionage is par for the course.

  37. @ Richard,
    Good points, but what if your company or you are of specific interest to the powers that be? Taking away their eyes and ears may stimulate more “direct” observation, such as “anti terrorism sweeps” of offices, midnight roustings of files, etc.

  38. @ Richard,
    Good points, but what if your company or you are of specific interest to the powers that be? Taking away their eyes and ears may stimulate more “direct” observation, such as “anti terrorism sweeps” of offices, midnight roustings of files, etc.

  39. Back to email, my prof and boss (a department head) told me a story about a non-tenured staff member who had accidentally cc’ed all on a lewd email depicting women unfavorably. Actually, he said it was extremely graphic. The president of the university at the time was a woman. He said that the man received a phone call within 10 minutes to say that he was fired. Not a great story, but memorable as a warning nonetheless.

  40. Back to email, my prof and boss (a department head) told me a story about a non-tenured staff member who had accidentally cc’ed all on a lewd email depicting women unfavorably. Actually, he said it was extremely graphic. The president of the university at the time was a woman. He said that the man received a phone call within 10 minutes to say that he was fired. Not a great story, but memorable as a warning nonetheless.

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