British, US firms snooping on emails, says report

About a third of big companies in the US and Britain hire employees to read and analyze outbound email as they seek to guard against legal, financial or regulatory risk, a study, quoted by a Reuters report, said.

"What folks are concerned about is confidential or sensitive information that is going out," said Gary Steele, CEO of California-based Proofpoint, which conducted the study along with Forrester Research.

The top concern was protecting the financial privacy and identity of customers followed by compliance issues and a bid to prevent confidential leaks, the report said.

Businesses ranked monitoring for inappropriate content and attachments as less important, it added.

Proofpoint also said that more and more companies were employing staff to read outgoing emails of workers who typically had no idea their correspondence was being monitored, according to the study.

The survey gathered responses concerning email security from 406 companies in the US and the UK with more than 1,000 employees.