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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.

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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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  • So the buttons Reply,Reply to All, Foward and X for delete is just nonsense in the surveillance program? It doesn't really make much sense for someone monitoring the inbox to suddenly be able to take control of it.
    – user95711
    May 18 at 13:05
  • Those buttons belong to Michael's email surveillance account, not Stanley's. They're not nonsense... For example, if an email were caught such that an employee were sharing sensitive information, Michael could forward Stanley's email to Jan and then reply to Stanley saying that he violated whatever company policy.
    – Charles
    May 18 at 17:12

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