Using Blind Carbon Copy (BCC)
For Email Privacy
By: Robin Henry
Need for Privacy
People have become hypersensitive about their privacy during the last
few years. They now expect that their details will be used only for the
purposes for which they have been provided and not shared by original
trustees. This is especially true of email addresses because of the huge
volume of unsolicited commercial email (spam) circulating the web.
In Australia and elsewhere, there are statutes requiring privacy when
collecting and using personal information. (In Australia the Privacy Act
(Commonwealth) was recently amended to include private sector use of personal
information eg, medical records retained by private practices).
In an increasingly litigious society, there are not only sound business
reasons, but legal reasons why you should ensure the strictest standards
of privacy are applied to personal information of which you are custodian.
Despite this, numbers of people using email unwittingly reveal the email
addresses of other people to whom they are sending email.
This article tells you how to maintain client confidentiality when sending
email to multiple addressees by using Blind Carbon Copy or BCC.
Blind Carbon Copy
The term Blind Carbon Copy is a hangover from the dim, dark ages before
word processors when we used typewriters (some of you have probably never
seen a typewriter). To produce multiple copies of a document, one had
to place a sheet of carbon paper between sheets of plain paper so that
the type key impact on the top sheet would be copied to the second sheet
(and any subsequent sheets).
It was a somewhat messy, but proficient process. When one wanted to send
an original letter to one person and copies to several other people without
showing each recipient who the other recipients were, a BCC annotation
was made on the original. Each copy displayed only the name and address
of the individual recipient, but the BCC notation on the original showed
to whom the copies had been mailed. A BCC looked like this: Bcc: Mr Tom
Jones, 14 Weaving Court, East Melbourne VIC 3000
Some email programs allow you to enter email addresses into the BCC field
and send them. When you do that each recipient receives your message,
but the names of other recipients are not displayed.
That is why they are called 'blind' - they are not seen.
By using the BCC feature you preserve the identities of those who are
on your mailing list and ensure that anyone receiving your email cannot
email your list or harvest their email addresses and sell them.
Your Email Program
When you obtain an email program, make sure it has a 'Blind Carbon Copy
(BCC)' feature. Programs such as Outlook Express and Outlook 200? have
BCC capability. Although I have never used it, I'd be surprised if Eudora
and other common email programs didn't have it too.
If when you click to send a new email your email client displays only
the To ... and Cc ... boxes it may be that the Bcc feature IS available,
but is simply not displayed. Try the View menu or Help menu to see if
you can find a Bcc option.
If your email program has a BCC option that you can select as a permanently
visible option, select it. If it doesn't, you may need to think about
getting a new program.
How to Use BCC
When you send email messages to multiple addressees and you do not want
each addressee to know who else has received a copy, use the Blind Carbon
Simply enter all the addresses in the BCC field separated by a semi-colon,
comma, or whatever your program uses. When you click the send button,
your email will go to each individual with only his or her name in the
To field. None of the recipients knows to who else the email has been
Outlook 200? will allow you to send BCC addressed email without an address
in the To field. Other email clients require at least one address in the
To field before they allow multiple recipient addresses in the BCC field.
Test the program you use to see if it needs to have an addressee in the
To field. If so, address it to yourself. (Surprisingly, email programs
usually allow us to email ourselves ... that's why I receive so many emails
from Jennifer Lopez (just joking).
If you need to make an entry in the To field, place your own email address
in that field and everyone else's address in the BCC field.
What you need to know about BCC is that some spam filters automatically
delete email addressed in the BCC field so it never reaches its destination.
This means that while sending BCC is okay for privacy, your email might
not always reach the intended recipients.
A problem I had with Outlook Express 2002 was that if I sent my email
using BCC I couldn't print a hard copy of the sent message with the addresses
on it. I had to write address details on my file copies for record keeping
If sending BCC email is likely to be impractical for you, then you need
to consider upgrading your email client from the standard run-of-the-mill
version to a professional version. That's what I did.
Email Management Programs
If, like me, you distribute large quantities of email regularly to newsletter
subscribers, clients, club members, colleagues or anyone else, you will
be better off getting a program designed for high volume mailings.
I use and sell a heavy duty bulk email program that lets me do simply,
many tasks not easy to achieve with standard email clients like Outlook
2002. For example, the program I use will allow me to:
record subscriptions to my newsletter
each email with a recipient's name or any other information I choose
to include eg, place of residence
- Send as HTML
or plain text with or without attachments
- Do a partial
send to my distribution list eg, if I wanted to email everyone in Kuala
Lumpur, Malaysia, clients 64-73 of 3,000 or all persons whose title
is Ms I can do it
By having a separate program for bulk emailing, I overcome the problems
involved with privacy and reduce the likelihood that my messages will
be eliminated by overzealous spam engines.
If you rely on email to carry out business activities (and who doesn't?),
it may be time to consider how well your email strategy meets the needs
of your business in today's security conscious society. More information
and a free download that will help you save time can be found at our site.
Robin is an HR specialist and Internet marketer who helps businesses work
smarter. He frequently tries and tests time-saving software and services
and reveals tips for working smarter.