Do accounts connected to company emails belong to the company ?

Are they allowed to change passwords and take control of any accounts connected ? Or do you have the right to take accounts that don't directly belong to your company ?

As an example lets say I created a SE-account with contact on my companies email address, [email protected]. Is this account my property or theirs ?

  • 9
    "say I created a SE-account with contact on my companies email address, [email protected]. Is this account my property or theirs" - the email address is theirs. The SE account is yours. Don't cross the streams! Oct 18, 2016 at 16:26
  • They have control if the changed they password. Ownership would be a legal question. VTC
    – paparazzo
    Oct 18, 2016 at 16:28
  • 5
    Since you will likely change jobs multiple times, why on earth would you use your work account for signing up for anything? Certainly when you leave the account will be disabled or the password changed so you can't access their work emails. Further, they might even re-use it.
    – HLGEM
    Oct 18, 2016 at 16:46
  • 1
    I signed up for SE using my work email, since I mainly used it for work purposes. I have since changed jobs and changed the email associated with my account, however my login name is still my original work email.
    – David K
    Oct 18, 2016 at 17:42
  • 2
    Useful: meta.stackexchange.com/a/102469 Oct 18, 2016 at 17:43

3 Answers 3


The legality of this would vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Certainly in the US it is not uncommon for the company to do such a thing if you are no longer employed by them or about to be fired or if you go on a short or long term disability and they need to access your account for a legitimate business reason.

It is never a good idea to use your work email account for any private purpose.

  • 1
    A lot of US companies will have a section of company policy specifically dedicated to addressing this topic. Usually the company asserts ownership for anything that was created by the employee while "on the clock." In this case I would think that the company could assert ownership of the SE account if they were so inclined, however unlikely that might be in the real world.
    – Lumberjack
    Oct 18, 2016 at 20:39

The email account belongs to the company, they can do anything they want with it. Usually they don't do anything dodgy, but never forget the human factor. Just like anything else it's a tool, use it wisely.

I've seen cowboy IT go through peoples facebook and personal mail accounts because they saved their passwords in their browsers. These chaps would have no qualms about playing games with anything non work related you used the work email for.


The issue isn't ownership, it's accountability.

The likely have a copyright on their name. So they can effectively shut you down. Demanding a password would be an exercise in futility for you--if threatened with termination, what would you do? If they decide to try the case in civil court, how much would you have to pay?

Anything you post connected with their email address affects their brand and reputation, so they have a vested interest in that asset. Don't give it to them. You also never know when that email address will disappear--through termination, mergers, name change, etc.

Email addresses are free and avoiding problems is priceless.

  • If they've trademarked the name, then he's up you-know-what creek without a paddle. copyright is dicey, trademark is absolute. A certain company represented by a mouse will go after you and win if you have three black circles in a certain pattern. Oct 18, 2016 at 17:57
  • @RichardU Yes, but trademark won't hold outside the domain. So a clothes company can hold a trademark that's not valid for stack overflow, which isn't in the clothes business. The company you mention is notorious for pushing the boundaries. Either way, he's explicitly acting as an agent of the company when using their name, and that's where the problems begin.
    – jimm101
    Oct 18, 2016 at 18:00

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .