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Be Advised: Your E-mail Is Not As Private As It May Seem

IDENTITY CRISIS: PCPS's John Porter investigated a case of inadvertent E-mail forgery that embarrassed everyone involved. John R. Porter, an associate professor of biology at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science (PCPS), likes to tell two stories that illustrate some of E-mail's advantages and disadvantages. Porter exploits the advantages in teaching an undergraduate cell biology course. One of his assignments calls for the students to read some recent articles in an area of c

Robert Finn

IDENTITY CRISIS: PCPS's John Porter investigated a case of inadvertent E-mail forgery that embarrassed everyone involved.
John R. Porter, an associate professor of biology at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science (PCPS), likes to tell two stories that illustrate some of E-mail's advantages and disadvantages.

Porter exploits the advantages in teaching an undergraduate cell biology course. One of his assignments calls for the students to read some recent articles in an area of cell biology and then to elicit more current information by contacting the authors via E-mail. "Usually if they ask the questions well . . . and show some real enthusiasm and some real interest, they get some very excellent answers."

But Porter had firsthand experience of one of the dark sides of E-mail when he was asked to investigate a possible violation of the PCPS "Policy for the Responsible Use of Computing Resources," which he coauthored....

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