Is it okay to read someone else's email?

Two in five people think it's acceptable to read somebody else's email without their permission, according to startling new research from BT.

When asked which activities they found to be unacceptable, only 62 per cent thought snooping in someone else's inbox was off limits, whilst only 56 per cent said it wasn't on to read text messages on someone else's phone without their permission.

Love rats should also be on their guard for Facebook honeytraps: only three out of ten thought it unacceptable to test a partner's loyalty using social networking sites, although only five per cent of those surveyed admitted that they had done so.

It also appears Britain is a nation of nosey parkers. A prying 27 per cent of people have looked at friends' Facebook/MySpace content that was intended for others (although if it's on their Facebook page, how private can it be?). And 17 per cent of people admit to Googling friends to see what the search engine throws up about them.

New technology also appears to be sapping people's courage: only 52 per cent of people thought it would be unacceptable to send "major" bad news by SMS or email, although only six per cent were prepared to admit they've actually done so.

Barry Collins

Barry Collins is an experienced IT journalist who specialises in Windows, Mac, broadband and more. He's a former editor of PC Pro magazine, and has contributed to many national newspapers, magazines and websites in a career that has spanned over 20 years. You may have seen Barry as a tech pundit on television and radio, including BBC Newsnight, the Chris Evans Show and ITN News at Ten.