Requesting Access to a Workforce Member’s E-mail/Attachments or Computer Files: UCOP Procedure

The UC Electronic Communications Policy (ECP) establishes principles that protect the privacy of Workforce Members’ electronic communications, except in specific situations.

  • Electronic Communications Files. Electronic communications primarily consist of e-mail and attachments. If access to those electronic communications is required, the appropriate consent procedures must be followed, as described below.

Any review, whether limited to computer files for which no consent is required or including e-mail and attachments pursuant to authorized access, must be limited to the minimum necessary review in order to resolve the situation.

Procedures for Requesting Access

Note: Requests for access should be made by a Workforce Manager or, in cases in which an investigation will be conducted, the UCOP Director of Investigations in the Office of Ethics, Compliance and Audit Services. See section 3 below.

  1. Workforce Members who Have Separated or Died
    When an individual is no longer employed at UCOP, and no longer has access to their e-mail account, the manager may seek approval from the (1) Executive Director of Local HR, (2) Office of General Counsel, and the (3) UCOP Director of Investigations in the Office of Ethics, Compliance, and Audit Services for access to an individual’s e-mail account and computer files, without the consent of the former Workforce Member, and without requiring a formal access without consent request.  
  2. Workforce Member on Leave
    The Workforce Manager should ask a Workforce Member going on leave (maternity, sick, extended vacation, etc.) in advance for permission to access the Workforce Member’s electronic communications during the leave period to ensure business continuity as necessary. This permission can also be requested while the Workforce Member is on leave. In both cases, the Workforce Member should be asked to complete the Consent Form. If it is not possible to obtain consent, the Workforce Manager is required to follow the ECP procedures for obtaining access without consent.
  3. Situations Involving Criminal Investigations or Sensitive Matters
    When a current Workforce Member has not given or cannot give permission for access, or must not be alerted to the request for access, or when an investigation will be conducted involving a separated Workforce Member, the Workforce Manager must contact the Director of Investigations, who will follow the ECP procedures for obtaining access without consent. Note that the Regents Committee on Audit authorizes Internal Audit to have access to University information except where prohibited by law. (See ECP, Section IV, Privacy and Confidentiality.)

The IT Service Desk handles requests depending on the type of records sought. Records are grouped into two categories:

  1. Administrative Records. Administrative records belong to the University. When a Workforce Member has separated from the University or died, University representatives (preferably the individual’s manager or department administrator) may be provided access to administrative records—whether e-mail or files.

    In cases when a Workforce Member has died, the Workforce Manager should be advised that, other than appropriate University personnel, only the individual’s legal beneficiary (as opposed to self-identified family members or friends) may have access to administrative records.
  2. Access requests based on Intellectual Property Claims. When a Workforce Member or, in the case of death, a legal beneficiary, makes a request to access materials based on a claim of intellectual property rights (this usually applies to cases involving faculty members)  the Office of the General Counsel must be involved to manage the access request.

Questions about specific cases should be directed to Matthew Linzer in ITS.