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In some organizations, people do not enable security on their Outlook calendars, so when you open someones calendar to schedule a meeting, you can see what else they are doing.

From time to time, this might reveal a cool project or sales lead they are working on that I might want to get involved with. I do from time to time read my bosses to try and guess what my deadlines are.

However, I feel without really knowing why that looking in a colleagues calendar to simply understand what they are working on is crossing the line and an invasion of privacy.

Am I correct, and if so, why?

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    You really should just ask your boss what your deadlines are rather than trying to guess. – Bernhard Barker Nov 8 '17 at 18:18
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    The default is to not share the calendar in Outlook so it must have been enabled - presumably by the user or the company who want it to be open. – Hannover Fist Nov 8 '17 at 19:47
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Am I correct, and if so, why?

If people don't enable security on their calendars is because (1) they forgot to do so, or (2) they don't care others seeing their calendar.

Either way seems to suggest those calendars don't contain anything that the creator would like to keep private, so I don't think that this is purely crossing the line.

If this worries you, I suggest you talk to the owner of the calendar and say "Hey, I saw that your calendar is not secured, don't you mind others looking into it?".

This will help them protect their documents or well indicate you that they do not mind you looking there.

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  • could also be the case @JoeStrazzere . For that, making the coworkers aware of this as suggested will help them realize this and protect themselves if needed. That is why, although old-school, I keep a physical agenda where I write my important and personal stuff. – DarkCygnus Nov 8 '17 at 18:26
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If you have a valid reason to look then it is not rude. If you are just browsing other people's calendars because you are bored, then it is definitely unprofessional. The calendar is there for business purposes and left visible so that business needs can be taken care of. It is not there for you to be curious, or get nosey.

If you have a legitimate need, then opening up a calendar is perfectly acceptable. However what you see in that calendar should be considered confidential. It is not your place to try to insert yourself into meetings about projects that you have not been invited to, or asked to contribute.

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If you're just opening their public calender, then it's not rude. They set these events to be public, which means they're okay with you seeing it.

If they didn't want you to see what was going on, they should have marked the event as "private", which is an easy toggle at the top of every event you put in the calender.

Besides; checking if they are available is a legitimate requirement. That's why you can see their calender in the first place, and why private events are still visible, just marked as private. So they can't really complain about you using the tool for the very thing it's built for. (If they do, make sure to point out that they can just set things to private, and you'll still need to consult their calender to make appointments)

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However, I feel without really knowing why that looking in a colleagues calendar to simply understand what they are working on is crossing the line and an invasion of privacy.

Am I correct, and if so, why?

Assuming that this is a private (rather than public) calendar then yes, you are correct.

Unless you explicitly share your calendar with others, the normal expectation is that it is private. And seemingly your company's default security setting lets you look at the calendars of others. Presumably they are not aware that you are able to look.

If you aren't sure that you are invading their privacy, just ask permission first. And if you aren't willing to ask, then that's a strong sign that you know they wouldn't approve and that doing so anyway would indeed be an unwelcome invasion of their privacy.

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  • Unless you explicitly share your calendar with others, the normal expectation is that it is private. - citation required – IDrinkandIKnowThings Nov 8 '17 at 18:25
  • No that the normal expectation in a work environment is that your work calendar is private... After all that is the scope for which all questions here are expected to be framed. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Nov 8 '17 at 18:27
  • Which is why I said citation required. If it is the normal expectation then you should be able to provide one – IDrinkandIKnowThings Nov 8 '17 at 18:29
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The professional thing would be to notify the user that he or she needs to enable security. Then, don't peek.

Yes, it's rude and just as rude if a hacker exploited a security vulnerability to peek at your personal files.

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