Information Governance for E-Mail and Instant Messaging*

E-mail is a major area of focus for information governance (IG) efforts: It is the most common business software application and the backbone of business communications today, and e-mail is the leading piece of evidence requested during the discovery phase of civil trials, so it is critically important to implement IG measures for e-mail communications.

Employees utilize e-mail all day, including during their personal time, sometimes mixing business and personal use of e-mail. Social media use has skyrocketed in recent years and actually has surpassed e-mail for personal use, but the fact remains that in business, knowledge workers rely on e-mail for almost all communications, including those of a sensitive nature. A 2013 survey of 2,400 corporate e-mail users worldwide found that nearly two-thirds stated that e-mail was their favorite form of business communication, surpassing not only social media but also telephone and in-person contact.1

These e-mail communications may contain discoverable information in litigation, and a percentage of them will be declared formal business records. E-mail often contains records, such as financial spreadsheets and reports, product price lists, marketing plans, competitive analyses, safety data, recruitment and salary details, progressing contract negotiations, and other information that may be considered as constituting a business record.

E-mail systems can be hacked, monitored, ...

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