Wednesday Feb 07, 2007

Messaging Server and Email Disclaimers: Pros & Cons

So you want every sent email from every employee to carry a company disclaimer message. Whether because of increased awareness of confidentially, legality, or fashion, appending disclaimer messages to out-going mail is here with us.

But before asking how to do this with the Sun Java System Messaging Server MTA, step back and ask if you really need to do this. Start by reading the following:

http://www.goldmark.org/jeff/stupid-disclaimers
http://www.goldmark.org/jeff/stupid-disclaimers/apply.html

Here's perhaps the money quote:

"In the end, I think, although I am vastly ignorant of the law here, that adding disclaimers only makes you more vulnerable. This is because without disclaimers reasonable conventions and existing law apply. But once you add the disclaimer you had better get it exactly right and on exactly the right messages, and you sacrifice reasonable convention."

Okay, let's say that in spite of this advice, you want to proceed full steam ahead anyways and get every outgoing message from the MTA to bear this disclaimer stamp. Our experts advise the following:

  1. First, be aware that there is no way to fully implement this at the server level. The only proper way to do disclaimers is to have a policy requiring users to insert them in their mail clients.
  2. The next best approach is to write a conversion channel to add the disclaimer. The conversion channel can be used to perform arbitrary processing on each message on per body part basis. In this case, you want the processing to be that of appending a disclaimer. You end up modifying the MTA configuration files so that all your mail passes through this conversion channel. At a minimum you'd want to construct one conversion to account for text/plain message body and one to account for html. You'll need to add more if the actual messages being sent have some other sort of MIME structure unique to your deployment.

For more information, see the following:

http://docs.sun.com/app/docs/doc/819-2650/6n4u4dtr3?a=view

Some Troubleshooting Advice

If you configure the MTA as described above, and run into problems where the disclaimer is not appearing, you should begin by looking at your conversions file, and get a master_debug conversion channel debug log file. (The tcp_local_slave.log-\* file, and the mappings file, are just about getting the message to the conversion channel. The appending of the disclaimer would be done by the conversion channel, so you need to see what the conversion channel itself is doing.)

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Reporting about Unified Communications Suite Documentation, including news, Comms 101, documentation updates, and tips and tricks.

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