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e-Discovery Complicates Public Records Requests

09.15.09

One might ask if every public employee must keep every email forever given this report that the Massachusetts Secretary of State ordered the seizure of City of Boston computers searching for deleted emails. This order follows a public records request by the Boston Globe to the Mayor’s office and which yielded only 18 emails during a 6 month period. If the computer forensics specialist cannot find the deleted emails one may only guess what can happen, including possible criminal proceedings.

Saving Every Email Forever

There are products that allow companies to save every email that is delivered to the mail server before the recipient ever gets the emails, which means that as we routinely delete junk, spam, or personal emails they are nonetheless saved forever. Of course how much storage does one need to save every email forever? Probably more than exists. So as a matter of reality businesses must establish Records Retention Policies that are practical and comport with actual practice and allow for the destruction of junk, spam, and personal email.

Google to the Rescue

After Google acquired Postini a couple of years ago it was not clear what was going on until Google announced its entry into e-Discovery with this bargain: “Flat $45 per user per year for up to 10 years of retention. Email archiving has never been simpler or more affordable.” Since ComScore reports that about 65% of all searches are conducted on Google one can be pretty much assured that every Judge in the US uses Google, so litigants probably will be on safe ground to tell Judges that all emails are stored on Google’s systems. Google not only offers emails on their Cloud with specialized search software, but also the peace of mind that Judges probably will think this a great idea to assure that emails are not destroyed.

 

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