Can I destroy electronic records and stay out of trouble?

11/20/2012

The answer is yes, as long as you have a defensible Records Management and Disposition policy and program in place. There is a lot of concern over the risk of destroying records, especially electronic records, for fear of losing a case, getting fined or sanctioned, or facing adverse consequences. The truth of the matter is the “business of business is business” and businesses and organizations exist to fulfill their mission. Records and information is created as part of the business processes of an organization and are a natural byproduct of their activities and operations. These records and information are subject to rules and regulations and the needs of the organization. It is the duty of the organization to establish and maintain a defensible Records Management program and to manage electronic and physical records and information in a reasonable and consistent manner in the normal course of business.

The only difference between managing and disposing of electronic records versus physical records is the methods of how you do this. It is more complicated to manage electronic records because of many factors including diverse technologies, duplication, wide distribution, and sheer volume. Records, information, and data produced or processed by an organization have to be managed in a consistent manner regardless of the media or the size or volumes of the records. Information must be managed in a compliant manner for its entire lifecycle and either be produced or evidence of disposition produced when required.

As long as you have a clear policy, robust operating procedures, documented chain of custody and audit trail, and an effective disposition hold and review process, you should be able to execute a defensible destruction program for all of your records and information, regardless of the media.

At the end of the day you produce a record or document when required or you produce evidence of disposition and defend the processes that disposed of that record.


What do you think?

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