This e-mail will self-destruct in five seconds

Good luck, Jim: E-mails could be set to delete themselves, and prevent forwarding or copying.

(Credit: USPTO)

Ever lose sleep over e-mails you’ve sent? Messages of an embarrassing nature that make you wish you hadn’t clicked on “send”?

AT&T is thinking of you. It applied for a patent for self-deleting e-mail. Once sent, these missives won’t hang around in some inbox waiting for someone to do what he pleases with them. They’ll disintegrate, so to speak.

“Method, System, and Apparatus for Providing Self-Destructing Electronic Mail Messages” is U.S. patent application number 20130159436 and was recently made public.

The application outlines an e-mail client system and server application that can send and receive messages that self-delete.

The filing notes that e-mails, once sent, are outside the control of the sender. They can be copied, saved, printed, or forwarded.

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