E-Paranoia Goes Slightly Retro

Dave Haste
By Dave Haste Last edited 156 months ago
E-Paranoia Goes Slightly Retro

Some of us might recall, with wistful nostalgia, the ‘halcyon days of email’. In those days of yore, email was as harmless as gossiping on the phone, as novel as watching TV on an iPod, and as reliable as the Northern Line. Importantly, it was also something you could spend a lot of time doing in the office, whilst still giving the vague impression of ‘working’.

However, at the end of 2000 the age of email innocence came to an end with an unfortunate incident, which we will refer to only as ‘Swire-gate’. Many readers will already be familiar with the events of Swire-gate, and out of respect and pity for those involved we will refrain from dredging up the sordid details here.

Anyway, since then companies have worked hard to develop a growing mistrust of the new generation of electronic media, fearful of damaged reputations and a distracted workforce. Fearsome instruments of compulsion, such as firewalls and proxy servers, originally designed to protect companies from real security threats, have now been augmented with wide-ranging powers to prevent employees from looking at interesting websites, or typing naughty words into email messages. Under a heavy yoke of oppression, some poor workers can now only read Londonist outside office hours, or during their lunch-break. And they can’t type ‘wanker’ into an email message at all.

Where these automatic measures don’t adequately crush the human spirit, new disciplinary procedures have been put in place to punish e-abuse that slips through the electronic net. And last week, we saw a clear example of these procedures in action.

Self-styled ‘serial-shagger’ Robert Imlah made the classic mistake of using email to explicitly document his colossal sexual prowess for the benefit of his workmates, who naturally could not resist forwarding his boasts around much of London. And so, with all the inevitability of death, gravity and taxation, the mounting kerfuffle attracted the attention of his employers, JPMorgan Cazenove, who apparently “take a very dim view of this kind of thing”.

In another example of London financial-services firms trying to extract male employees’ brains from their trousers, ‘Immi the pimp daddy’ (as he apparently likes to be known) has reportedly been suspended from work.

So, instead of enjoying some manly backslapping, raucous laughter and blokey kudos around the water-cooler, Mr Imlah is currently chilling his boots at home and (presumably) considering the error of his ways. And if the infamous events of Swire-gate have set any sort of precedent, the future probably doesn’t look too bright for his immediate career prospects.

Last Updated 23 January 2006