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Email Retention Compliance

Your firm may be subject to the various regulations regarding retaining old emails, but even if you're not, every business should have email retention policies for business continuity and protection from litigation.

It’s generally not a good idea to retain emails forever, which, if you are doing nightly backups that include email, may be exactly what you’re doing. Emails are business records that may be subpoenaed as part of a criminal or civil complaint against your business. The Enron debacle offers a good object lesson on this subject.

If your business is required to have email retention policies and procedures in place but does not, you are exposing yourself to the risk of an enforcement action involving monetary and other penalties. If you are in a health, finance or banking-related business, you should particularly be aware that you may be covered by email retention regulations.

Relevant rules dealing with email retention may come from the following regulations:

Here are more details on these regulations.

Recent surveys state that more than 90 percent of all documents produced since 1999 were created in digital form. In 2000, 83 percent of American Bar Association attorneys responding to a survey said that their corporate clients had no established procedures to deal with electronic discovery. In 2005, however, a survey of around 500 large corporations found 80 percent now have document retention policies and 75 percent have litigation hold policies.

Thus, not having email retention policies and capabilities today may place a corporation outside established practice, and that could expose your business to legal claims regarding negligence (We are not lawyers; always seek legal counsel for information regarding your business' legal matters).

Whatever the size of your business, email management is an important challenge. According to the Radicati Group, a Palo Alto-based market research firm, the average corporate user generates and receives about 84 emails per day requiring around 10 MB of storage. Radicati believes that by 2008, emails will require 15.8 MB of space daily. Managing, searching, and retaining this volume of email can be a significant task for your IT systems and personnel.

In recent high-profile cases such as Enron, corporate email represented a gold mine of information for discovery. Is your business in the position to produce email evidence for discovery without a time-consuming and expensive effort? Are you archiving nothing, some email, or all email? Which is the best strategy for your business, given its needs for continuity (Joe leaves; Susan must take his place), regulatory compliance (SEC rules require retention of some emails for six years), and responsiveness to litigation discovery.

StratVantage can help

StratVantage's resources are knowledgeable about email retention policies, procedures, and systems. We can help you determine applicable regulations and design systems and solutions to meet your business' obligations.

We’ve worked with companies of all sizes, from the Fortune 15 to startups. Our email retention resources stand ready to help your company whenever and wherever you want them. Contact us today to see how your company can master technology and turn it into a competitive advantage.


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