Could Michael have used the e-mail surveillance program to stop the distribution of his photo?

Could Michael have used the e-mail surveillance program to stop the distribution of his photo? - Back view of crop anonymous ethnic female freelancer retouching photo with outfit on netbook while working in house

In the episode Email Surveillance, Michael is given the ability to monitor e-mails. We can clearly see Reply, Reply to All Foward and the X for delete.

He's monitoring Stanley's inbox when these options become available.

The Office - Email Surveillance

In the episode Back From Vacation, Michael accidentally sends a photo to packaging instead of Packer:

Michael: OK, wait a second. I sent it to you at… [reading computer screen] packer@dundermifflin.com. packaging@dundermifflin.com. Uh oh.

Couldn't he open the email surveillance program, access packaging@dundermifflin.com, and delete the photo?

This won't stop distribution of the photo if Darryl had downloaded the photo locally (to his Downloads folder), but he can just get Dwight to confiscate the laptop.


Best Answer

Couldn't he open the email surveillance program, access packaging@dundermifflin.com, and delete the photo?

No, there is a fundamental difference between surveillance and management.

Email surveillance software essentially creates a copy of every email that's sent through a certain "gateway" and/or that belongs to a certain group of users and forwards it to a specified [Michael's] account. It would not allow for Michael to take control of other people's email accounts and delete the email / basically impersonate other employees.

At the same time, if the email surveillance were set up properly then Michael would have no control or even visibility of group members' emails belonging to packing@dundermifflin.com. This is what's referred to as the "principle of least privilege" -- that, a computer user is only granted the absolute bare minimal amount of access/privilege necessary in order for them to carry out their job sufficiently.




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