Two-thirds of UK employees would read an email that was not intended for them, as research finds that three-quarters are unaware of proposed changes to the Data Protection Directive.

Research by Proofpoint found that 46 per cent of respondents had received an email that was not intended for them, while 35 per cent knew that they had mis-sent work emails. The survey of 2,069 adults, of which 858 work in an office, also found that 66 per cent would read an email not intended for them, yet only 55 per cent would directly notify the sender.

The survey also found that 76 per cent of respondents were not aware that privacy and data protection laws are about to change in the UK via the EU.

Paul Hennin, EMEA marketing director at Proofpoint, said: “Organisations today face a complex and evolving set of data protection and privacy considerations. Managers need to ensure that compliant collaboration is possible.

“Workers should be enabled to work flexibly, for example by supporting consumer devices like iPads on corporate networks and opening multiple channels of communication including email, collaboration tools and social media. At the same time they need to actively and automatically protect workers from human error, prevent malicious acts and ensure compliance with the evolving regulatory landscape.”

The survey also found that 41 per cent of respondents had training in both data and privacy protection, while 17 per cent admitted to sending sensitive information by email; 11 per cent share information by file transfer services, ten per cent over IM and seven per cent on collaboration tools.