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Bcc and Outlook

The Bcc (Blind Carbon Copy) function in Outlook allows users to email multiple recipients but recipients can only see their own email address.

When should Bcc be used?

Bcc should be used when you need to communicate information to multiple recipients where it would be inappropriate for them to know the identity of other recipients. Consider whether your email contains sensitive information, especially as defined in the Data Protection Act. For example, should you send an email that identified all the recipients as having a disability? What about one that identifies the recipient as members of a particular ethnic group? Or religious group?

Revealing this sort of information could cause a breach of the Data Protection Act that could lead to compensation claims and/or reputational damage to the University and possible disciplinary action for the staff concerned.

Bcc Etiquette

When using Bcc, it is customary to put one’s own email address into the To field. The salutation should be restricted to generic phrases such as “Dear all” or “Dear students”, as appropriate to the target audience.

Bcc Example

Example of a Bcc Email

Displaying the Bcc field

If you are unable to see the Bcc field in Outlook, you need to select the Options tab, then click the Show Bcc button, such that it is highlighted, as in the graphic below. This will then display the Bcc field below the Cc field.

Show Bcc Field

Show Bcc Field

Bccware!

Although most email clients will ensure that Bcc addresses are hidden from each other, it is not actually required by the internet standard for e-mail messages (RFC 2822)! If you are using a mail client other than Outlook, please ensure you test Bcc functionality with a non-sensitive email address first (i.e. put your own name in the Bcc field, not in the To field, ensure the body and subject line don’t contain any sensitive data, send it and see what happens). To be safe, only use Outlook to send Bcc messages.

 

Posted in Data Protection Act, Email.