Archiving email

Email has become part of our everyday working lives, but what happens to your email once you have read it. Many users have some sort of automated archiving, to store email, but increasingly this archiving is coming under scrutiny, with the general feeling being that not enough companies take enough care of how they archive business mail and whether or not they can retrieve it.

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By  Mark Sutton Published  October 4, 2003

Email has become part of our everyday working lives, but what happens to your email once you have read it. Many users have some sort of automated archiving, to store email, but increasingly this archiving is coming under scrutiny, with the general feeling being that not enough companies take enough care of how they archive business mail and whether or not they can retrieve it.

In the US, poor storage of email has already caused casualties. Five securities firms were fined $1.65 million each for failing to comply with National Association of Securities Dealers regulations regarding the retrieval of stored email.

As online communication becomes the norm for many financial industries, so regulators are applying the same rules on record keeping to electronic communication that they apply to paper records. The problem for the companies that were fined was not that they hadn’t properly archived their email, but that they were unable to retrieve the emails to the standard required. The message from the regulators was clear—just having a tape full of old email is not sufficient—you have to be able to retrieve mails in an organised and timely fashion.

The uptake of technology by financial services companies in the Middle East might not have moved as fast as in the US, but many banks are doing more and more over the Internet, begging the question, do they have a handle on their email? So far regulations are not developed enough to have addressed this, and corporate governance is a concept that barely gets paid lip service, let alone is taken seriously, but, in the same way that banks have learnt the hard way about information security, so they are bound eventually to realise the need for proper control of their electronic archives, and once they do, there is going to be another market for storage vendors and resellers to exploit.

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