What Does My Company Need to Archive?

With the ever-changing landscape of business communication, it is hard to know what your business is required to archive, or what data is worth managing. The easy answer is…archive everything! But there are specific reasons why your oganization should archive business communication. The difficult answer is…it depends.

The types of business communication you need archive depends on the types of communication your company allows its employees to use. Your company is most likely using email to communicate, but what other method of electronic communication is also being used? Do you use instant messaging? Do employees access social media at work? Do people use their smartphones to communicate with customers and coworkers? How does an organization manage what and how employees are communicating?

In addition to what you should archive, you need to know why you should archive. Your company should archive your electronic business communication based government and industry regulatory requirements. Are you a government agency? In what industry does your company operate?

To address these questions, let’s begin by discussing what is required, by law. There are a number of regulations in the United States that dictate the types of data a company must store. These regulations vary depending whether you are a State or Federal government agency, as well as the industry in which your business operates.

Federal Government Archiving Regulations

  • The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) – 5 U.S.C. § 552, As Amended by Public Law No. 104-231, 110 Stat. 3048
  • Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) – Rule 34, Rule 26(b), and Rule 35
  • Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA)
  • Coordination of Federal Information Policy – 44 USC Chapter 35 ()
  • NARA October 2010 Bulletin
  • Here is a deeper look into Federal Archiving Requirements

State and Local Government Archiving Regulations

  • California Public Records Act (California Government Code Section 6250-6270)
  • Florida 119.01 and Title XIX Chapter 286
  • Louisiana Title 44 Chapter 1 Part 1 (Louisiana Sunshine Law)
  • Massachusetts SPR Bulletin No. 1-99 states that all email created or received by an employee of a government unit is a public record
  • Missouri Public Records 610.010, 610.023, 610.024, 610.026
  • Ohio Public Records Act – Ohio Revised Code 149.43)
  • Oregon Public Records Laws
  • Washington Public Records Act
  • Wisconsin Public Records Law
  • Many others…varies by state

Here is a sample of some of the major archiving regulations, broken up by industry:

Financial Organization Archiving Regulations

  • FINRA 10-06 – Financial firms must retain records of social media communications.
  • FINRA 11-32 – Defines tweets and text messages as written material that needs to be preserved
  • FINRA 11-39 – Firms are required to retain, retrieve and supervise business communications regardless of whether they are conducted from a work-issued device or personal device.
  • SEC Rule 17a-3 & 17a-4 – A dealer or broker must preserve documents and records for three to six years, the first two years of which, they must be in an accessible location.
  • NASD 3010/3110 – Member firms must implement a retention program for all correspondence involving registered representatives.
  • Sarbanes-Oxley Act – Public companies must save all business records, including electronic records and messages, for no less than five years.

Healthcare Facility Archiving Regulations

  • HIPAA – Regulates health care providers’ management of protected health information (PHI), which includes medical records and payment histories. Organizations must maintain a record of all messages to prove they did not contain PHI, and any messages that did contain PHI were sent through the proper and encrypted channels.
  • HITECH – Expands on HIPAA and holds healthcare organizations to a higher level of responsibility for breach of patient information. Under HITECH, if a breach compromises the privacy and security of the patient’s information and poses a significant risk of financial, reputational, or other harm, patient notification is required. Additionally, the Secretary of Health and Human Services and media outlets must be notified under specific circumstances.

Archiving Regulation for Schools

  • Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) – This is a law giving students and parents the right to inspect and review the student’s education record, can apply to messaging data in the form of email and messaging.
  • The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) – 5 U.S.C. § 552, As Amended by Public Law No. 104-231, 110 Stat. 3048  – Government agencies, such as public schools, colleges and universities, shall make available copies of all records, regardless of form or format. Unlike other regulations, the law doesn’t specify how long organizations must retain their e‑mail messages. But an agency’s IT department must adhere to the information request within 10 days of its receipt.
  • Many states have “Sunshine Laws” or Freedom of Information Laws, in addition to the Federal laws – see above

Corporate Business Archiving Regulations

  • Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) – Public companies must archive all business records, including electronic records and messages, for no less than five years.
  • Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) – All employee-created communication, including social media content, that is work related, regardless of whether or not it was created on a personal account, is discoverable. This includes all email, social media, instant messaging, web searched and mobile device communication data.

As you can see, these regulations clearly detail that, yes, your business communication has to be archived and readily accessible, and not just email, but so does all other electronic communication data, such as mobile communication data, social media posts and instant messages.

Additional Reasons to Archive

OK, so since we have covered what is required, the interesting thing is that those requirements fall in line with what is good to archive. In other words, you should archive email, social media, instant messaging and mobile communication data, even if you are in an industry that is not subject to the previously mentioned regulations. But if the regulations for your industry don’t apply to all electronic communication all, is there a benefit? Absolutely. Let’s hit on some of those reasons.

  1. You need to preserve your corporate identity – Electronic communication data is where your corporate identity is found. How and what your employees communicate will show you what is going on in the company, and it will help you see where your company has come from and where it is going. Archiving this information will help you preserve your corporate identity.
  2. Archives are sources of customer and operational intelligence containing years of data – This data includes collected customer communications, contracts, agreements, complaints, and correspondence, among other items. Think of the information you could gather from an archive. Now imagine if that archive spanned many years (which it typically does). If you have a tool that could extract business intelligence, what would that mean to your company? What could you learn? What trends could you see? What could you forecast? For example, with insight into all this data, an HR department would be able to quickly access and gauge the communication tone of an organization, is it positive or negative? What are the teams discussing and is there a way to leverage those discussions to better improve upon existing company processes? Metrics measure engagement.  Are your employees interacting with each other more or less?  If an important announcement was made in the company, did it create a buzz or was it met with indifference?
  3. Oversight, oversight, oversight! – An archive is a great way to have oversight on what is being communicated. Even if you are never involved in litigation or a regulatory investigation, wouldn’t it be important to have oversight on what your employees were saying? An archive can help you see what is being said and how. It can help you easily curb bad habits, such as spending too much time on social media or sending inappropriate instant messages.
  4. Archiving encourages collaboration and can save time and money – Archiving can help you encourage collaboration, by helping you see what type of communication improves productivity. It can help you see what tools your employees will actually use, because you can see what messages are being sent and when. So, if no one is using your shiny new instant messaging tool, maybe you can get rid of it. Or have a training on how team members could benefit from its use. Either way you are saving time and money. Plus, think about all of the time your IT department wastes with requests from users to find and restore a lost email. With a good archive, your end users could do that themselves. This frees up your IT staff to work on more important and mission-critical tasking.
  5. There are more reasons, too – I bet you could come up with at least three or four more reasons why archiving is good for your company. If you have a really good one, please put it in the comments. Maybe it will save someone’s bacon!

To finish up here, let’s answer the question again: what do I need to archive? You need to archive email (obviously), social media, instant messaging and mobile communication data. And, guess what? You can do all of that in one central archive with Retain Unified Archiving. This solution enables your organization to quickly access, search, and audit archived communication data as well as to easily place litigation holds, print, forward, save, redact, and export your message data. Retain reduces cost, mitigates risk, and manages complexity on prem or in the cloud.

So what should you do now?

  1. Learn more about archiving email
  2. Learn more about archiving mobile communication
  3. Learn more about archiving text messages
  4. Learn more about archiving social media
  5. Learn more about archiving instant messages
  6. Watch the video above to learn more about Retain!
  7. If you don’t have an archiving solution for your company,
    download a FREE 30-day trial of Retain!
  8. Request a quote for Retain

Photo Credit: Working Late by Alan Cleaver is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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Director of Product Marketing

Micro Focus

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