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August 12, 2011

I received an email with the following at the bottom.

This message may contain confidential information. If you are not the intended recipient please inform the
sender that you have received the message in error before deleting it.
Please do not disclose, copy or distribute information in this e-mail or take any action in reliance on its contents:
to do so is strictly prohibited and may be unlawful.

The message may contain confidential information, or it may not, and the sender needs to explain how to tell.  Just using the word ‘may’ and leaving it to the reader’s discretion is a recipe for misunderstandings and possibly worse.  I am the intended recipient so far as I am concerned: it arrived in my email inbox and the internet mail system is, in general, reliable, so if it came to me, it was because the email system was directed to send it to me and I take its arrival as sufficient evidence that I am the intended recipient.  Thus, the ‘if’ takes the form IF FALSE THEN, which is vacuous and trivially adhered to, we needn’t concern ourselves with what follows.  I do not consider this to have any informational content with regards to the actual information contained in the email, so I believe I can repost this part of the email.  I apologise if I’m wrong, and will listen to sound advice based on sound understanding why I may have misinterpreted.

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