Is your company wrong with its e-mail retention policy? Regardless of whether you do business in the United States or anywhere else in the world, when you delete e-mails you may very well be wrong.
Regulations such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in the United States specify retention periods for certain business communications, including e-mail. Similarly, most if not all civil law countries -- such as Mexico and Puerto Rico, and a large portion of the world -- require organizations to save all business correspondence, which again includes e-mail, for a specific period of years. In Mexico, for example, the retention period is 10 years.
Is the answer to never delete e-mail? Not according to the recent study Legal Obstacles in E-mail Message Destruction -- conducted by John C. Montana, J.D., and funded by the ARMA International Educational Foundation. As the study showed, there are no simple solutions to this dilemma, which is facing governments and corporations of all sizes, especially large multinationals.
Managing e-mail to exploit its usefulness while minimizing its risk is one of the most difficult information management challenges facing organizations of all types and sizes around the world. This study specifically examined the legal doctrines around e-mail to determine the best approach to its management.
The results of the study were announced at the 2003 ARMA International Annual Conference and Expo in Boston, October 18.
ARMA International Educational Foundation is a nonprofit research and educational organization founded in 1997 by ARMA International, a not-for- profit association for records and information management professionals. The foundation funds research projects such as this and other educational opportunities to further promote and develop records and information management.