Liabilities make e-mail more dispensable

Alberto Gonzales won't do it anymore, and President Bush hasn't done it in years. It got Harry Stonecipher fired from the top post at Boeing Co., and it earned investment banker Frank Quattrone an 18-month prison sentence.The culprit? E-mail. Indispensable for uniting workplaces and private lives, e-mail has proven adept at bringing down highflying careers as well. Those billions of electronic messages lurking in cyberspace have provided the smoking gun in scandal after scandal. Among top officials in government and business, balancing the benefits of e-mail with its potential pitfalls has become a difficult judgment call. With the number of messages skyrocketing, nearly every corporation and arm of government has imposed common-sense guidelines for e-mailing. Many use sophisticated software to actively monitor traffic for potential problems.