There is currently a conflict between laws and the market in their treatment of email. Laws mandate that emails are not protected as property unless copyrightable or protected by another legal mechanism. But the market suggests that emails are user-owned property without further qualification. Moreover, the nature of email is treated slightly differently between the U.S. and U.K. legal regimes. While the current legal regimes applicable to email in the U.K. and U.S. are reasonable, legal harmonization within these systems, and with the service provider market, should be achieved.
Edina Harbinja, Legal Nature of Emails: A Comparative Perspective, 14 Duke Law & Technology Review 227-255 (2016)